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Nanomaterials: mitigating a new threat to the recycling industry

A large variety of nanomaterials is used in consumer products and industrial applications, and many of these products have reached the end of their life. However, studies have shown that various types of nanomaterials cause toxic effects, which makes the development of appropriate recycling strategies imperative.

‘Every 18 months, we see a doubling in consumer products that claim to contain nanomaterials in Europe,’ says Steffen Foss Hansen, associate professor at the Technical University of Denmark and co-founder of The Nanodatabase, which was set up in 2012.

Carbon nanotubes are used in electronics, batteries, sporting goods, composite plastics, concrete and ceramics. Nano-titanium dioxide is used in an equally varied amount of products: paints, coatings, building materials, textiles, electronics and metals, whereas nano-silver is mostly used in textiles, kitchenware and coatings.

The global nanomaterials market is expected to exceed US$ 55 billion by 2022 from US$ 14.7 billion in 2015, according to a report of Allied Market Research. The largest application for nanotechnology is electronics, followed by energy applications.

Studies cite end-of-life tyres as a ‘problematic waste stream’ as they contain different nanomaterials.

Want to read more about nanomaterials? The original article was published in the 2018 Nov/Dec issue, read it here.

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