20 critical raw materials - recycling is more than needed
The European Commission updated recently the list of Critical Raw Materials. The 2014 list includes 13 of the 14 materials identified in the previous list of 2011, with only tantalum moving out of the list (due to a lower supply risk). Six new materials appear on the list: borates, chromium, coking coal, magnesite, phosphate rock and silicon metal bringing the number up to 20 raw materials which are now considered critical by the European Commission.
The other 14 raw materials are: antimony, beryllium, cobalt, fluorspar, gallium, germanium, indium, magnesium, natural graphite, niobium, platinum group metals, heavy rare earths, light rare earths and tungsten.
The list should help to incentivise the European production of critical raw materials and facilitate the launching of new mining and recycling activities. Furthermore, the list is being used by the Commission to help prioritise needs and actions. For example, it serves as a supporting element when negotiating trade agreements, challenging trade distortion measures or promoting research and innovation. It can also serve as a source of information for companies who would wish to evaluate the criticality of their own supply of raw materials.
Raw materials are everywhere - Just consider your smartphone: it might contain up to 50 different metals, all of which help to give it its light weight and user-friendly small size. Key economic sectors in Europe - such as automotive, aerospace and renewable energy - are highly dependent on raw materials.
Raw materials are called critical, when their high supply risk is mainly due to the fact that a high share of the worldwide production is concentrated in few countries. This concentration is in many cases compounded by low substitutability and low recycling rates. The list represents a useful tool in the context of the overall EU raw materials strategy. Two main parameters are taken into account to measure whether a raw material is critical or not: its economic importance and the risk of supply. As regards economic importance, the analysis is achieved by assessing the proportion of each material associated with industrial mega-sectors at an EU level.
Read more about critical raw materials and the EU
Regions for Recycling provides tools to help cities and regions to improve their selective collection and recycling performances. Among these tools, a series of good practices will demonstrate how local and regional authorities managed to improve their recyclicng performances, in particular by implementing strategies and instruments to foster selective collection. Those good practices will be showcased during R4R events: a conference in Brussels on 17 September and the R4R final event in Sofia in October 2014. Furthermore, an online tool allows cities and regions to monitor and benchmark their recycling performances, getting to know what other territories are comparable to their situation, the potential for improvement and the ways to get to it.