Recycling of composite cards
Today’s modern society requires a rethink of our use of strategic and critical raw materials. Europe faces economic and environmental risk from a linear economy, from scarcity of metal supply and the release of plastics into the environment. The European Commission has put together a list of critical raw materials that are of central importance for the European Union,1 and developed a directive for plastics sustainability.
Today we use plastic cards to enter buildings and hotel rooms, identify ourselves and our membership, or for payment. These cards contain several strategic and critical metals for their function. The cards are composed of a mix of polymeric and metallic materials which makes recovery of these valuable resources challenging. Even if the concentration of the valuable metals might be low, the number of cards in use is huge and it can therefore be economically and strategically motivated to develop processes for recovering those metals. Still, research into the recycling of composite cards has so far been very limited.
This project builds from work at the University of Manchester, a partner of KTH, who have designed a new, more sustainable plastic card whereby the plastic component can be separated and circularised. This project is focused on developing a hydrometallurgical process to recover the valuable elements from metal containing cards after separation of the main part of the plastic content. The project will be a collaboration between academia (KTH and University of Manchester) and internationally leading industrial stakeholders.
The work will include:
- Characterization of the starting material.
- A literature survey accompanied by thermodynamic calculations to investigate the potential for recovering the valuable elements.
- Laboratory experiments to test and verify methods for recovery of the valuable elements
- Evaluation of data and proposing a process for resource recovery
The project involves close interaction with partners in Manchester and in industry, and may lead to follow on opportunities for enthusiastic students.
Dr. Kerstin Forsberg (KTH), examiner
Prof. Michael Shaver (The University of Manchester)
1 https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/raw-materials/specific-interest/critical_en (accessed 2022-05-05)
2 https://ec.europa.eu/environment/topics/plastics/single-use-plastics_en (accessed 2022-05-08)