Grading system for post-consumer recycled plastics from WEEE
Recent years, the European Commission has been fostering a transition to a circular economy for plastics. To increase the use of recycled plastics, manufacturers are requested to develop new supply chains and find new sources of secondary materials. In this research, a grading system is presented to facilitate and to stimulate the international trade of post-consumer recycled WEEE plastics between recycling companies focussing on the preprocessing and recycling companies focussing on the compounding, as well as between recycling companies and original equipment manufacturers, either directly or through an online trading platform. Two main phases involving 3 stakeholder groups where the grading system should be applied in the supply chain are identified: the phase between pre-processor and plastic recycler, where plastics are exchanged in form of mixed plastic flakes and the phase between plastic recycler and product manufacturer, where recycled plastics are present in form of granulates. Interviews with industry experts representing different phases of the plastic value chain were conducted to determine relevant grading criteria for mixed plastic flakes and plastic granulates. Based on their responses, the key criteria are identified and summarized in a three-pillar model in the following three categories: quality, reliability and availability. These three pillars are considered to support a harmonized and transparent communication in the value chain by providing a defined set of relevant criteria that can be used for grading by the downstream stakeholders.