CLG Europe’s Materials & Products Taskforce has released a new report in collaboration with the Wuppertal Institute on the urgent need for increased circularity in the critical raw materials market in the EU. The report, “Embracing circularity: A pathway for strengthening the Critical Raw Materials Act,” is a direct response to the EU’s Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA), which was published in March 2023.
The authors of the report claim that circularity is more than recycling—it also involves looking at how to store materials in the system more effectively and for longer. The report maintains that this aspect of circularity is not adequately addressed in the current CRMA proposal.
Focused on three important materials—aluminum (bauxite and magnesium), lithium, and rare earth elements (REE), the report builds on the evidence-based research. It includes circular case studies from businesses such as Ball and Volvo Cars and provides recommendations to policymakers.
Eliot Whittington, Chief Systems Change Officer, CISL said, “Global competition is heating up around key materials and the climate is warming in response to our carbon emissions, but by adopting a more circular economy Europe can turbocharge its response to two challenges in one. While the EU is negotiating its Critical Raw Materials Act, it should take advantage of the opportunity to increase circularity.
“European policy makers should look to see how leading businesses across sectors are already implementing a wide range of circular economy solutions in critical raw material use , and facilitate the financial flows and innovative, targeted policies needed to implement these measures – accelerating the EU’s. journey towards climate neutrality and strategic autonomy.”
Raw materials play an important role in the green transition, in the production of solar panels, wind turbines and electric cars. As a result, demand in the EU is set to increase in the coming years — lithium demand in particular is expected to be 12 times higher in the EU by 2030 and, globally, 90 times higher by 2050 But with 24 of the materials listed in the CRMA being imported from China, in addition to the environmental damage and the social impact of many domestic mines in Europe, the importance of the EU’s strategic autonomy has come into sharper focus. .
The report suggests that a circular economy in the EU could help increase security of supply for critical raw materials. Circular practices require a more deliberate shift towards a reuse model, which can play an important role in supply management.
Prof. dr. Manfred Fischedick, President and Scientific Managing Director of the Wuppertal Institute, said, “Russia’s war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the high vulnerability of Europe—especially in the supply of raw materials, which are now mostly imported – In principle, the EU has the potential to become more independent. However, this will require higher prices for raw materials, and mining activities will inevitably violate the environment and landscapes.
“The circular economy is the better alternative. It helps to provide the necessary materials efficiently and to keep the extraction of primary raw materials to a minimum. If the policy makers set a clear framework for this, it can be the basis for a high security of supply and a greener and socially responsible economy.”
The report highlights the challenges, opportunities and business best practices for adopting multi-circular practices in the use of CRM, using case studies from members of the Materials & Products Taskforce and other identified company stakeholders. in the value chains of lithium, aluminum and REE. From the material technology company Umicore, which develops battery recycling technology and has a capacity for 7,000 metric tons per year, to the giant aluminum package Ball that aims to achieve 90% of recycling and an 85% recycled content target by 2030.
The report’s recommendations to policymakers include how to:
- Implement a more comprehensive circular approach within CRMA, instead of focusing only on recycling.
- Establish a flexible approach to circularity within the CRMA that recognizes the need for a case-by-case approach.
- Deploy forward-looking infrastructure to enable a system-wide circular economy.
- Create a clear overall vision of the European Industrial Strategy that integrates circularity, carbon neutrality and additional aspects of sustainability.
- Create more environmentally and socially sustainable supply chains by diversifying supply chains and promoting responsible mining practices.
- Implement financial incentives and support schemes to ensure faster commercial viability in transitioning towards green technology.
Adopting circularity: A path for strengthening the Critical Raw Materials Act. drive.google.com/file/d/1MJNEZ … gsVI4z9NDkDUZe8/view
Provided by the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy gGmbH
Citation: Why Europe needs a circular approach to critical raw materials (2023, July 17) retrieved 17 July 2023 from https://techxplore.com/news/2023-07-europe-circular-approach -critical-raw.html
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