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Wire recycling gets global attention. (Scrap Industry News).

Curtailing the improper management and disposal of plastic wastes was the topic of conversation for authorities from some 100 governments who met recently in Geneva, Switzerland.

The delegates have adopted a set of technical guidelines "for protecting human health and the environment" from the burning of certain types of plastic in particular, according to a report from the Environment News Service (ENS).

In developing countries, plastics are disposed of not only through land filling, but also via open burning that can release airborne toxins. Wire and cable is also burned to remove the plastic coating from the copper or aluminum wire that is recycled.

Some researchers claim the burning of PVC plastics produce persistent organic pollutants that circulate globally and have been associated with adverse effects in humans. The new technical guidelines have been designed by a group within the Basel Convention to address concerns that some developing countries lack the facilities to cope with piles of plastic wastes of all kinds.

The recycling of wire and cable is getting special attention from the group. Due to the concern of the Basel Convention parties regarding what happens to scrap insulated cables during the process of metal recovery, a guideline on plastic coated cable scrap is being included.

About 30 percent of the scrap cables exported annually from the U.S., Japan and Europe to developing countries is re-used, while some 70 percent is recycled. While the copper and aluminum within has a sale value to smelter operators, the PVC or polyethylene insulation and jacketing is often disposed of, sometimes by being burned away.

It is estimated that some 700 controlled-atmosphere furnaces have been sold worldwide to scrap recyclers who used them to burn off plastic coating. "Furnaces can be connected to appropriate gas cleaning systems for all plastic, such as scrubbers that remove the hydrochloric acid generated when burning PVC," the technical working group notes. Open burning offers no such controls.

It is unclear how rigorously developing nations would enforce a burning ban, and whether it would cause more recycled wire to stay in the U.S.
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Publication:Recycling Today
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2002
Words:347
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