UK losing critical materials, claims Axion director


Axion Polymers director Keith Freegard has called for stronger legislative frameworks to protect vital materials from being exported abroad.

At the recent launch of the KTN Materials Security Special Interest Group, he said that wholesale exports of low-grade commingled polymer materials from our commercial and domestic waste streams are depriving the nation of valuable resources that could be re-used in high-quality, higher value goods.


Freegard added that techniques also needed to be developed to identify and extract rare elements such as platinum, palladium and indium from currently landfilled shredder and WEEE residues. This is particularly needed  as demand for these meant prices are rocketing and supply dwindling.

He said: “Why sell waste for a few hundred pounds to economies without robust checks on what happens to mixed recyclables when we could keep it in our economy, support hi-tech businesses, create green jobs and end up with materials that can be re-manufactured into new goods worth five times as much.

“We seem to be missing a great opportunity to capture and hold that much-needed upgrade in economic value within our own country’s GDP.”

He added that we have barely scratched the surface in being able to identify which WEEE items these materials are in, and how we can extract them, but he said that the tiny concentrations of these metals are richer than mining thousands of tonnes of ore just to get a useable amount of the material.

KTN is Knowledge Transfer Networks which brings together experts to promote innovation in research and development.