20 February 2004

Japanese WEEE recycling technology comes to the South

DARP Environmental has enlisted a Japanese engineer to consult on technology for a “major” electronic equipment recycling plant in the South of England.

The Devon Appliance Recycling Project (DARP), a recycling research firm, plans to open the facility before August, ready for when the European WEEE Directive is transposed into UK law setting collection and recycling targets for electrical equipment.

In Japan, there is already legislation in place requiring the recycling of electrical equipment, similar to the European WEEE Directive. Consulting engineer, Ikuo Koutaka has come to the UK to provide Exeter-based DARP with his expertise on Japan's WEEE recycling techniques.

Lorie Randall, managing director of DARP Environmental, said: “The UK currently has no integrated industry for recycling electrical goods and the pioneers of the sector will set the standards.”

He added: “DARP is at the forefront of this new industry and we aim to offer the most comprehensive solution in Europe. This will include combining efficient technologies from across the world, as well as developing novel and bespoke solutions.”

Mr Koutaka is from Hiroshima and previously worked for the Hitachi Group. He is now a consulting engineer who specialises in thermal systems, environmental systems and pyrolysis.

In Japan there are large scale WEEE recycling plants which use hydrocarbon cracking process that are able to provide energy, recover precious metals and produce virgin resin for new products. Mr Koutaka will be working with DARP on cracking techniques used in Japan which can break down printed items like circuit boards.

Mr Koutaka's work with DARP has been supported by the DTI's Global Watch Secondments scheme which supports small and medium-sized UK firms who are looking for foreign expertise to improve their businesses.

DARP is also looking to use German technology in the plant and is currently looking for private investors to fund the facility. The recycling research firm already receives funding through the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme from Onyx Environmental Trust to run the WEEE Recycling Network of small businesses affected by the WEEE Directive.

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