Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) and Best Practicable Means (BPM) are concepts well established in the nuclear industry to help guide and inform waste management decision making. The recycling of contaminated metal waste in the UK is not well established, with the majority of waste disposed of at the Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) at Drigg. This paper presents an overview of the Strategic BPEO study completed by Studsvik examining the options for low level metal waste management and a subsequent BPM study completed in support of a proposed metals recycling service. The environmental benefits of recycling metals overseas is further examined through the application of lifecycle analysis to the metals recycling process. The methodologies used for both studies are discussed and the findings of these studies presented. These indicate that recycling contaminated metal is the preferred option, using overseas facilities until UK facilities are available. The BPM for metals recycling is discussed in detail and indicates that a tool box for processing metal waste is required to ensure BPM is applied on a case by case basis. This is supported by effective management of waste transport and waste acceptance criteria. Whilst the transport of contaminated metal overseas for treatment adds to the environmental burden of metals recycling, this when compared with the production of virgin metal, is shown to remain beneficial. The results of the Studsvik studies demonstrate the benefits of recycling metals, the options available for such a service and challenges that remain.

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