GAP Group has partnered with a clean technology firm in a bid to bring an electrical waste recycling plant to the North East that could create up to 25 jobs.
Funding is said to be in place for GAP and London-based Descycle to bring a multimillion-pound plant to a yet-to-be-announced location in the region, with hopes it will be operational by 2024.
The facility would feature new technology called deep eutectic solvents (DES) to process 5,000 tonnes per year of "e-waste" including printed circuit boards and other electronic equipment in a setup the two partners say would cost a fraction of conventional smelting operations.
GAP and Descycle say the plant would allow the UK - the world's second highest generator of e-waste per capita - to recycle domestically for the first time, and with the potential reach zero carbon recycling status.
It would recover "critical metals" which are considered critical to the world economy and are often scarce - including those used in electric vehicle batteries.
GAP managing director Peter Moody said: “We are constantly on the look out for new ways to innovate our processes and will continue to invest in the future to protect the environment whilst at the same time maintain our commercial advantage.
“I’m delighted that we can lead the way with Descycle disrupting the market, especially as the critical metals in e-waste circuit boards are notoriously difficult to recycle, requiring large, dirty smelting facilities with a billion dollar price tag.
E-waste generates £43bn worth of metal rich waste annually and new technology being introduced as a result of a new British partnership will remove the need for the highly wasteful and environmentally damaging conventional smelting processes.
The DES system - which has been developed by the University of Leicester - dissolves target metals in a solution without the need for toxic chemicals or high temperatures and can itself be recycled.
Dr Leo Howden, Descycle managing director said: “We are really excited at the prospect of what can be achieved with our partnership with GAP. They have demonstrated that they really have the vision and the track record to provide an excellent platform to support Descycle in delivering this pioneering technology"