Waste stream definition

In 2010, the Small household appliances (SHA) represented 21% of the tonnage of WEEE collected. SHA stream consists of over 200 different types of products whose average weight is 2 to 3kg.

All SHA are processed together whether it’s a vacuum cleaner, a coffee maker, a printer or a mobile phone.

SHA stream is characterized by the wide range of products. Therefore it is a very heterogeneous stream (size, materials, pollutants, etc..).

Composition of SHA

Others : External power cable, Printed circuit boards, Toners cartidge, Condensators, Flat screens, Inverters, Batteries and accumulators, Glass
Figure 1: Composition of SHA (Study ADEME 2011)

Waste stream depollution and recycling

The SHA are usually coarsely grinded before undergoing a phase of manual sorting (depollution) before finer grinding of the remaining elements takes place. However, sometimes (depending on the treatment operator) that the products are first depolluted before being crushed.

First, the SHA will be collected in containers and then undergo a phase of coarse grinding will help open the shell to reach the components to be extracted.
The second phase is a phase of manual depollution. It involves removing and separating hazardous substances and other materials that could affect the quality of metals and plastics during recycling.

Pollutants, materials or components extracted are those listed in Annex II to Directive 2002/96/EC (WEEE):

– Cells and batteries

– Printed circuit board (larger than 10cm2)

– The external electric cables (power cords)

– The ink cartridges

Once this phase of depollution is complete, the remaining elements will be finer crushing and go through a series of processes to separate:

Components / materialsTreatment system
Plastics (light fractions)Energy recovery / treatment without recovery
Plastic (heavy fraction)Energy recovery / treatment without recovery
Printed circuit boardspecific elimination
Batteriesspecific elimination
Ferrous metalsmaterial recovery
CapacitorsTreatment without recovery
Aluminum / stainless steelmaterial recovery
Coppermaterial recovery
CablesSpecific removal
PilesSpecific removal

Below is an example of a process of SHA treatment at SITA:

Proposed improvement plan

The table below provides some ideas to improve the recycling of WEEE. These ideas are from studies on the recycling of some products and difficulties encountered by treatment operators responsible for the treatment of WEEE. These areas for improvement can initiate a deeper reflection from producers. However, each product has its specificities and a number of other constraints to fulfill.

Encountered difficultiesImpact for recyclingEco design opportunities
For depollution and pre-treatment
The products are assembled by means of different types of screws which also differ from one product to anotherDismantling and depollution time is longer.
Several different tools are needed.
Reduce the number of screws.
Reduce the number of different screws in a same product.
Some batteries are not removable (welded / screwed / bonded).These components are difficult to remove during depollution.Do not fix parts to remove for depollution.
For recycling
Presence of food remains in some devices (e.g. friers, microwave...).Problem of purity of materials during recycling.Aware consumer on how to properly recycle their products at end of life through the user manual.
Presence of plastics containing brominated flame retardants.Identification and sorting difficult among other plastics.
Obligation to withdraw these plastics from products.
Substitution of brominated flame retardants.
The polymer fraction of the stream is composed by different types of plastics.Difficult sorting of different plastics, incompatibility of plastics for recycling.Reduce the number of different plastics.
Check the compatibility of different plastics for recycling.
For reuse, remploy
Accessories (batteries, chargers, etc...) are not compatible from one brand to another or from one product to another.Limits the possibilities for reuse :
- Requires to have a important stock of spare parts
- Prices of spare parts sometimes higher than the value of the product to be repaired.
Standardize components that may be replaced on a product.
Facilitate the replacement of the parts concerned.
Standardize connectors.


– Sampling and characterization: Analysis of campaigns 2009-2010 – ADEME 2011 – french

– ADEME. Annual report « Electrical and electronical equipments ». Data 2011

Updated on November 27, 2016

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