This page lists currently available recycling routes in UK and Europe for typical waste streams from the composites industry. As you look through, please consider how your organisation can
- Reduce waste
- Use recycled material
- Design with a circular economy in mind.
We all need to work together to make our industry more circular.
If you find information here to be out of date or incorrect, please contact us. Please note that company links on this page are provided for information and Composites UK cannot formally endorse these. Please carry out your own checks to see if the service provided is suitable for your business.
Cured composite waste is not 'hazardous' and production waste can use the EWC Code: 04 02 09 'wastes from composite materials (impregnated textile, elastomer, plastomer)', though several other waste codes may be used. Wastes containing uncured resin are typically deemed hazardous. Large volumes of glass fibre waste with no organic resin can in some cases be disposed of as aggregate, which is not subject to landfill tax.
Glass Fibre Composite Waste
Currently the following options exist:
- In house recycling – there may be ways you can recycle some of your GRP waste in-house, particularly if you use a spray-up or casting process. Grinding to fine filler is a proven route but is difficult to achieve economically, but grinding so that some fibre length is retained creates a reinforcing filler which is more valuable. Ecowolf (Florida, USA) provides equipment for incorporating GRP regrind in spray up processes. Conenor (Finland) provides advice / R&D services for multilayer extrusion which can incorporate GRP regrind.
- Cement kiln recycling – Mixes shredded composite parts / offcuts with other waste to feed into cement kilns. Organic resin is burnt for energy, inorganic glass and filler become feedstock for cement. Neowa in Germany promotes this process specifically for the composites industry. This recycles the glass and mineral fillers recycled into the cement.
- Energy recovery – Several of our members are now sending GRP waste for energy recovery. Check with your waste management contractor, or Agecko can arrange this. The glass and filler will go to ash, but in some cases the bottom ash from incinerators is recycled as backfill rather than landfilled. You may want to ask whether the incinerator bottom ash (IBA) will be recycled (as aggregate or in building products) or landfilled, and whether the waste is being exported for incineration overseas. Incineration with (or without) energy recovery, even where the ash is used as backfill/ aggregate, does not meet the definition of recycling in the EU Waste Framework Directive (or Waste (England and Wales) Regulations).
Carbon Fibre Composite Waste
ELG Carbon Fibre, West Midlands, UK
ELG Carbon Fibre was the world’s first commercial carbon fibre recycler. They can take dry fibre, pre-preg and cured laminate waste. More info on collection, disposal and certification for recycling here. The waste is converted into the Carbiso range of products including chopped and milled fibre, oversized tow and non-woven mats. Other products using recycled carbon fibre, including injection moulding compounds, are in development.
It is not recommended to dispose of waste containing carbon fibre in any incineration processes. This is beacuse there is a possibility of defibrillation / oxidation of carbon fibres to create small diameter fibres in the emissions which could be carcinogenic. The risk is as yet unclear, and research is ongoing in Germany to clarify this. Also carbon fibres in the airstream can cause shorting in electric flue gas filters in incinerators. Therefore if waste carbon fibre composite material cannot be recycled it is recommended to send to landfill.
Waste Management Consultancy
Agecko UK Ltd
Agecko is a waste management consultant who works with several Composites UK members. Agecko will undertake a waste audit to look at the waste your business produces and determine the maximum recyclable solution. They also provide the equipment and containers such as balers and shredders which facilitate this. Its solutions include energy recovery/cement kiln recycling for GRP waste.
Composites Contact: Natan Elfassy
Downsizing large structures
Large volumes of glass fibre waste with no organic resin can in some cases be disposed of as aggregate, which is not subject to landfill tax.
Aptec, Co Durham
Aptec can recycle aramid fibres of which they process over 100t/yr. They can also process other fibres as a service, e.g. chopping, carding, spinning, needlepunching, silenced fillings, friction materials reinforcement, etc. See Fibre Recycling and Processing.
Chemicals and Solvent Recycling
Bowden Chemicals Ltd, Altrincham nr Manchester
Bowden specialises in handling redundant chemical stocks that can be expensive to destroy. They can also arrange recovery and recycling of many solvents, which can be returned or not as you need.
Magnum Venus Products Europe, West Midlands, UK
Supply recycling systems for acetone and other solvents.
Drums, IBCs and Other Packaging
Packaging Reuse & Disposal Services, Manchester
Reuse, recycling and disposal of contaminated and hazardous drums and IBCs, as well as plastic and cardboard/paper. Will purchase used IBCs and drums where appropriate. Sales of reconditioned IBCs and drums. Free advice on recycling and disposal options via on-site environmental chemist. Also offer specialist disposal options for other hazardous and non-hazardous waste streams.
Pack Care Ltd (the Industrial Packaging division of WasteCare Group) has specialised for many years in the reconditioning of IBCs, plastic drums, kegs and contaminated plastics. With the recent purchase of the UK’s only thermal treatment facility (at Avonmouth), this now enables PackCare to provide a one-stop shop for all types of highly contaminated steel packaging in a range of sizes.
PackCare can provide a nationwide collection service from manufacturers' clients, on their behalf, through myWaste.
Silicone Release Papers and Polymer Films
Techlan recycle rolls of used silicone release paper from prepreg manufacture. Its innovative cleaning process enables the release paper to be cleaned and reused into various markets, including several Composites UK members. If you use silicone release paper in your processes, this recycled release paper will be a cost effective alternative and provide improved environmental benefits over a virgin paper.
Techlan also purchases prime grade materials that may be surplus to requirements, or quality rejected. Products of particular interest for Techlan to purchase are siliconised films, siliconised papers and uncoated polyester films. Other items would also be considered.
Plaswire, Newry, N Ireland
Plaswire can take nylon breather fabric without contamination with other textiles such as PTT, PET and other materials. PET textile baled, free of contaminants. Films - PE, PP, PTFE. Maskant from acid etching process (2017).
The company is working on solutions for nylon and PET vacuum bagging materials and other consumable waste from our industry. Please contact Plaswire for details, acceptable levels of contamination, etc.