Presented by Alessandra Hool, ESM Foundation, Switzerland
Critical raw materials are crucial as enablers for important innovative shifts in key technologies such as energy generation and storage, mobility, and information technology. Securing material supply is thus of high importance for competitive economies. Although Europe possesses limited raw material deposits of certain kinds, their exploration and extraction are often challenging, not least because of a frequently densely populated area and a highly regulated environment limiting the possibilities of domestic primary sourcing.
In parallel, a more circular economy is envisaged on EU level – in order to be economically competitive, but also due to a strive towards an efficient resource management, i.e. less waste, lower carbon footprints, and less negative global impacts in the products’ value chains. Thus, numerous initiatives and projects are making efforts towards closing material loops and investing in areas such as recycling or more resource-efficient product design in order to meet both goals: increasing supply independence as well as sustainability.
However, these initiatives – although frequently successful and promising – are often still scattered undertakings. In particular, materials flows and leakages in the circular economy system are poorly understood. In the future, it will be crucial to define objectives on how to competently and responsibly manage raw materials along the whole value chain, and how to close material loops on different levels. Reliable data and effective policy interventions are needed and require improved collaboration of all involved actors not only in isolated economies, but also internationally.
This is a public webinar.