Veolia has applied for a bespoke installation permit for its flat screen recycling facility in Bridgnorth, Shropshire.
Veolia’s facility began operations in 2016 and is designed to recycle PC monitors and LCD, LED and plasma display units. LCD units are processed using two purpose-built robots, following the removal of speakers, plugs and accessories.
The facility was permitted in July 2016 under a standard rules permit for processing up to 75kte of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). The standard rules set was updated by the Environment Agency in 2019, Veolia says, and as a result some activities carried out at the site were no longer in scope.
A Veolia UK spokesperson told letsrecycle.com: “After an internal review, it was decided that an installation permit was more fitting to our Bridgnorth site’s activity than a standard permit. This is a technical change rather than any major change to operations.”
The facility’s current standard rules permit allows for a maximum of 10 tonnes of hazardous waste to be treated for disposal or recovery per day. As the potential treatment capacity of the facility is greater than 10 tonnes per day Veolia has applied to vary the permit.
In 2010 a report released by resources charity WRAP concluded that mechanical processes such as shredding were not a viable treatment option for waste LCD backlight. They were deemed incapable of preventing mercury release into the environment or ensuring residual fractions were not contaminated with mercury (see letsrecycle.com story).
Following the publication of the report the Environment Agency concluded any ‘mechanical treatment’ of WEEE containing LCD screens did not meet the requirements of Best Available Treatment, Recovery and Recycling Techniques (BATRRT).
Veolia argues the precision automation system carried out by the two purpose-built robots housed at its facility is “far removed” from a shredding activity. Rather than being a destruction, release and capture and sorting method, Veolia says, the design philosophy, similarly to entirely manual treatment techniques, is a dismantling process with containment of mercury at source.
The waste management company argues the system provides an equivalent level of control compared to current Best Available Techniques (BAT) and BATRRT.
Veolia’s flat screen recycling facility was ‘namechecked’ by Philip Dunne, head of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), at this year’s virtual WEEE conference on 30 September (see letsrecycle.com story). The Conservative MP for Ludlow described the facility as “fantastic”.