Critical Raw Material Closed Loop Recovery (CRM Recovery), funded by the EU LIFE programme, aims at exploring commercial opportunities for harvesting critical raw materials (CMRs) and precious metals including gold, silver and platinum group metals, from everyday unwanted electronic products and will be the first-of-its-kind to link collection methods with recovery success. These materials are crucial to many electrical products, and the increasing pressure on their supply is a growing economic concern for businesses and governments. Prior research has shown that nearly 40% of electrical products go to landfill when they are disposed of (http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/switched-value). CRM Recovery aims to address these challenges by exploring viable alternative commercial streams that boost the economy, and sustainable solutions that reduce our reliance on the earth’s natural capital and the need for mining raw materials. Over the course of the project, CRM Recovery aims to increase the recovery of a range of CRMs by 5% from products such as consumer electronics, ICT equipment and small household appliances. The project will link collection methods, such as kerbside collections, retailer take-back schemes or postal returns, to how the material components of these products can be efficiently dismantled, recovered and returned to the market. This will present environmental benefits by keeping materials in the loop for longer, and by demonstrating the potential to economically recover these materials from Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Findings will be fed back to the European Commission in the form of policy recommendations and proposals for infrastructure development for the cost effective recovery of the target materials. Four countries will participate – UK, Germany, Italy and Turkey, with each country representing varying maturity stages of recovery development, allowing cross-comparison so that a EU-wide framework can be developed.
CRM Recovery will, via competitive tender, directly stimulate innovative solutions for recovery of target materials from EEE waste streams (Actions Innovative and flexible processing & End-of-life products recycling). By covering collection and processing of target waste products both the pre-processing and metallurgical recovery are addressed. There is also potential for transfer of improved and/or novel processes to other areas of material recovery and waste streams.Key part of CRM Recovery is be to detail EU-wide infrastructure recommendations that will lead to the strategic development of advanced technologies capable of reusing and recovering CRMs from WEEE. This plan will outline the economic potential and job creation opportunity such a change in approach will bring. It will open the way to recover CRMs from other materials and secure the CRMs Europe will need for its future, thus addressing the action Innovative approaches and infrastructures for reuse and recovery of end-of-life consumer products. CRM Recovery will deliver in-depth analysis and evaluation of both the initial situation of WEEE collection and recovery of CRMs and the situation after the implementation of the different trials. The evaluation indicators take into account the ifferent starting points in terms of collection and recycling infrastructure, legislation or environmental awareness of the population. Using the trial data and evaluation, policy ideas and infrastructure recommendations will be developed to deliver the most effective resilience for EU businesses and the wider EU economy, thus CRM Recovery will contribute to action End-of-waste criteria. CRM Recovery will review current methods and processes and develop and verify new material flow models in order to demonstrate innovative new collection and treatment systems targeting maximised concentration and recovery of CRMs thus contributing to action Raw materials intelligence - methods, tools and analysis.
Primary Objective: To demonstrate viable approaches to increase the recovery of target materials (graphite, cobalt, antimony, tantalum, REEs, silver, gold, PGMs) from Display, Consumer Electronics, ICT and Small Household Appliances by 5% by 2020. Supporting objectives: 1) Environmental, economic & social benefits of an innovative circular economy for CRMs for the EU; 2) Innovative collection, reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery of WEEE; 3) Key inputs to an EU infrastructure plan for collection and recovery of products, parts, components & CRMs from WEEE; 4) Innovative methods to support the 7th Action Programme, Priority Objective 5: Improved evidence base for environmental policy & Citizen support to improve transparency of fate of end-of-life products, parts, components and materials; 5) How through positive price mechanisms WEEE shipped to non OECD countries can be reduced.
The project has a clearly defined set of activities supporting the delivery of the following:
1) EU Materials and CRM Flows Model: An analysis of all available EU material flows and development of a European wide model of the flow of (W)EEE through the recovery system.
2) Collection and Recovery Trials for CRM containing WEEE: in UK, Germany, Italy, Turkey via competitive tender: The trials aim to collect a minimum of 100 tonnes of WEEE and increase CRM recovery from WEEE by 5% by 2020.
3) Evaluation of Trials: Identification of design criteria for an optimised recovery of CRMs from selected product groups and demonstrating specific, quantified resource saving potentials in combination with economic assessments of the different trails across the trial regions.
4) Policy Recommendations: National policy interventions and EU policy options focusing on how and where the outcomes of the trials can be rapidly implemented across Europe, providing a clear pathway to achievement of the 5% material capture improvement expected result from this project by 2020.
5) Infrastructure Recommendations: Outline of the required collection and recovery infrastructure to secure resources and value in the participating nations and at EU level.
6) Dissemination & Communication: The project delivery is supported by extensive networking and dissemination activities, including project conferences, a policy workshop, presentations at external events and conferences, project website, project promotional material, newsletters, social media activity, a Layman's report, case studies, and collaboration agreements with other stakeholder networks.
Over the course of the three and a half year LIFE funded project, CRM Recovery aims to achieve a 5% increase in the recovery rate of CRMs from WEEE by 2020. The long term projected impact of the project on target material recovery is anticipated as 20% increase in the recovery rate of CRMs from WEEE by 2030. CRM Recovery will have a large-scale impact on the local economies of and population of member states. It is believed that the project will play a major role in securing growth and jobs for Europe and will bring major economic opportunities, improve productivity, drive down costs and boost competitiveness. The overall socio economic impacts will be linked to how the policy and pan-European infrastructure development recommendations are taken forward, evaluation of this will carry on beyond the end of this project. The CRM Recovery project will not only reduce raw material consumption substantially but add to economic value for those who get involved in recovering CRMs. Additional expected outcomes from CRMRecovery, include increased profits in EU businesses, improved business long term planning and asset management and assessment of the associated risks.
KTN are the RMC coordinator and dissemination lead for the LIFE project, where KTN furthermore contributes to the policy options and infrastructure recommendations.