EU project to help strengthen transition to a circular economy through tracking of critical materials aligning with sustainable practices

A new three year EIT RawMaterials funded scheme to provide a sustainability-tracking tool that is expected to set new global standards has launched. Known as CSyARES (Circular System for Assessing Rare Earth Sustainability), the scheme will help companies improve the transparency and sustainability of their supply chains when it comes to critical materials, i.e., focussing on rare earths and magnets, and provide proof that all handling of raw materials is not linked to poor environmental, social, and governance standards. 

The project is led by the Dutch supply chain traceability start-up Circularise, BEC GmbH, Grundfos, London-based Minviro, and the global Rare Earth Industry Association (REIA) partners.

Providing increased transparency of supply will pave the way for increasing consumer confidence because it will enable the industry to better monitor and track supply, as well as mitigate supply risks and promote competition.

Currently, certification for the sustainability of mining products is mostly done manually and many schemes have proven inconsistent in their standards and unreliable. With this scheme, once a token is created for a certain amount of sustainability, this cannot be changed on blockchain which is a digital leger.

EIT RawMaterials views CSyARES as having the highest strategic importance for Europe. Raw materials and advanced materials have a major impact on the environmental footprint of clean technologies and devices. Some of them are considered critical in terms of economic importance and supply risk. The CSyARES project provides a software solution that integrates sustainability standards, Life Cycle Assessment, and supply chain traceability of rare earths. The tool will enable industry to better monitor and track supply, which is a key first step to mitigate supply risks and to promote competition.

Dr Roland Gauß, Head of Innovation and Business Intelligence at EIT RawMaterials

With CSyARES, we see a big potential in developing solutions for suppliers, brands, and industry as a whole to measure, understand and reduce the climate impact of Rare Earth Metals. As corporations and governments work toward a sustainable future, climate supply chain traceability software that leverages data and blockchain to measure environmental impact can help increase the secondary resource efficiency and accelerate transition to a circular economy.

Jordi de Vos, Founder of Circularise, CSyARES project lead

Demand for critical and strategic materials is skyrocketing. The International Energy Agency says that in order to achieve the 2030 and 2050 climate targets will mean a dramatic increase of mineral requirements by 2040, particularly for Nickel, Cobalt, Lithium and Copper. These metals are irreplaceable in technologies like wind turbines, electric vehicles, mobile phones, computers and the defence industry. Rising demand combined with resource shortages and supply chain disruptions means we need to rely on sustainably mined and processed metals.

As highlighted by the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA), led by EIT RawMaterials, in the Action Plan entitled Rare Earth Magnets and Motors: A European Call for Action, boosting supply security through better cooperation among stakeholders is a top priority. Like it is the case for all materials suppliers, for rare earths and magnet suppliers, this means not only becoming more sustainable but also proving their compliance and quality criteria to customers and regulators.

Specifically, the CSyARES scheme aims to integrate REIA’s standards on assessing sustainable performance and Minviro’s LCA tool with Circularise’s blockchain software for supply chain traceability and transparency. Furthermore, it will enable Grundfos and BEC GmbH to test the system and business model and trace and measure the environmental impact of their supply chains using Circularise. This will be conducted in cooperation with members of REIA.

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