Code of Conduct for the recycling of vacuum insulation panels of cooling appliances

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Vacuum insulation panels, also called VIPs, have been used as insulation materials for different purposes including the production of cooling and freezing (C&F) household appliances.
Compared to the commonly used PU-foam, VIPs have better insulation properties and, being increasingly used, the storage volume of C&F appliances can be increased. According to a specific study by AppliA Europe, it is expected that the amount of mentioned “new” appliances will increase. This probability could also influenced the future recycling operation.
«Therefore – AppliA Europe explains – it has to be investigated, if conventional treatment and recycling plants are suitable for this “new” waste streams and which technical adjustment and optimisation is needed. Finally, the influence of different materials, used as VIP on output streams (e.g. metals, non-metals etc.) from treatment plants is discussed».
Within a specific study, AppliA Europe wants to understand the effect on a range of available recycling technologies; on occupational health and safety conditions at the recycling plants; calculation of the recyclability rate, taking into account state of the art technologies; impacts on economic value of other output fractions caused by contamination with this material; secondary raw materials potential depending on the panel type.
To manage this matters in the best way, many big players of the appliance industry, following AppliA suggestion, starting to use marking for VIPs technology with an identification placed on the back of refrigerators containing VIPs, providing key information on critical materials in products. The markings better enable the visual identification for sorting of certain types of large appliances for proper treatment, forward indications of future needs of recycling technologies and the appropriate safety and security of the recycling plants and workers.
Arçelik, BSH, Candy, Electrolux, LG, Liebherr, Miele, Panasonic, Samsung, Vestel, Whirlpool and ZUG Kühltechnik, and others also decided to follow the Code of Conduct for Vacuum Insulation Panels, born after the Association’s study on the recycling of cooling and freezing appliances containing the new technology. The use of vacuum insulation panels has gradually increased since 2010 due to their better insulation performance compared with PU-foam. VIPs can be found in new C&F appliances of energy class A++ and A+++. Currently low quantities of these types of C&F appliances are arriving at recycling plants but the production is increasing and it is expected that this amount will increase in the coming years.

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