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Why Recycle?

Of the annual consumption of refractories (~ 3 million tonnes in Europe), a small quantity is absorbed by the processes themselves (e.g. incorporation in the slag in steel production). The remainder is recovered during servicing and refurbishment of the process equipment. This leads to a major difficulty – what to do with this considerable mass of « refractory waste »?

Firstly, consider the generally advanced arguments in favour of recycling and the barriers which slow down its exploitation.

    Driving forces for recycling

    • Economic: the recovered minerals, which may have interesting properties (e.g. crystallographic stability acquired during the dwell at high temperature), can be reincorporated into new refractories or may be exploited in other economically viable ways. This leads to a reduction in imports and in this way recycling can be looked upon as the discovery of « new deposits » of these minerals.
    • Environmental: European directives, national laws and regional decrees governing the use of landfill disposal of waste has led to increased dumping costs which makes this disposal route much less attractive.
    • Commercial: the recovery and recycling of waste can create a « green » image for companies. This can be a significant parameter in certain sectors (e.g. use of glass food packaging)

    Barriers to recycling

    • Old habits: rapid dismantling and removal of waste refractories to a landfill site.
    • Selective dismantling and sorting on site may not be practical.
    • The concept of exploiting refractory waste and reusing it is not widespread.
    • The cost of recycling: who will pay for it?
    • Negativity surrounding terms such as « waste, used products, secondary raw materials… »
    • The relatively low price of certain materials compared to equivalent secondary materials obtained by recycling.
    • Lack of knowledge on retreatment possibilities.
    • Recycling methods and the processes of adding value to recycled materials have not yet been fully validated.
    • Uncertainty regarding the availability and regularity of supply of raw materials coming from a recycling process.
    • Suspicion regarding materials containing recycled products (mediocre quality, poor performance…).
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