Recycling of Electricity Meters

AFESA, the company authorised to manage the treatment of dangerous and non-dangerous waste, recently signed a joint agreement with GAIKER in an R+D project that will lay down the guidelines of a process for managing the end-of—useful life stage of electricity meters that have become obsolete following the new enabling law aimed at re-use and recycling, in accord with the European Directive on waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) passed in 2002.

The project, aimed at re-use and recycling, lasted 18 months and its remit was to find an alternative for the waste and disposal management of electricity meters that have come to the end of their useful life – one which would provide greater added value than the post-consumer dumping of the product.

The immediate alternatives to dumping that were proposed within the framework of the project include the re-use of components or parts of equipment that can be taken advantage of for use in other products with less exigent requirements, as well as the recycling of constituent materials – mainly metals (iron, copper) and plastics – thus enabling their return to the economic cycle as raw material.

Selective de-assembly of equipment

As a result, GAIKER has participated in drawing up guidelines for the end-of-useful-life treatment for electricity meters, working on the design and development of a technology of component recovery based on the selective de-assembly of equipment, thus providing a significant contribution to the aspect of re-use as required by the WEEE European Directive, apart from providing a substantial improvement in waste management compared to sending the material to the dumping site, both in terms of the process itself as well as in environmental terms.

Also, during the execution of the GAIKER project, a study was undertaken to come up with an optimised system for waste management for obsolete electricity meters: from designing their transport to the points of consolidation to the subsequent despatch to the sites where de-assembly and treatment are carried out in order to recover components and materials.

Practical experience

In the practical sphere, a manual de-assembly of models of representative electricity meters was carried out, the aim being to find out what the various parts and components were, as well as the materials making up the equipment. This characterisation of materials and classification of parts has enabled guidelines to be established for their re-use and recycling and, thus, finding the most appropriate end-of-useful-life treatment from a technical, economic and environmental perspective. Once the breakdown and the characterisation of these pieces of equipment were established, a study was carried out on the possibilities of the re-use of these parts or components, including the de-assembly procedure and the possible applications and/or target uses for the recovered parts – with highly satisfactory results., and

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