Difficulties of composite materials and their separation

Composite materials pose contamination problems in reusing and recycling materials. Separation of the component materials is very important, firstly in order to be able to process the materials in a recycling sense, and secondly to ensure that the final recycled product is able to meet performance/quality specifications. The use of composite materials should be minimised at the design stage, especially if the various components are difficult to separate. Structures should be designed so that:

  • they are easy to take apart
  • the use of hazardous materials is avoided
  • any polymers used are identifiable and easily separated.

Reducing the amount of composite materials results in:

  • lower time costs
  • lower labour costs
  • better quality reclaimed materials (i.e. less damage)
  • better segregation of waste types.

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