EIT RawMaterials supports the most promising innovation projects and new businesses on recycling

Raw materials are essential to securing the transition to green energy technologies, growth and sustainable consumption. Hence, the European Green Deal recognises access to resources as a strategic security question to fulfil its ambition. Considering the materials needs of a growing world population, recycling will have to evolve from a side stream to a major pillar of raw materials supply. Currently, recycling rates of some base metals are higher than 50%. However, many crucial elements are almost completely lost in the value chain. This is particularly the case for Critical Raw Materials, where many of them have recycling rates below 1% and production from primary resources often comes with large environmental footprints and socio-economic issues.

EIT RawMaterials fosters the shift from linear to circular economy. Raw, processed and advanced materials, from primary and secondary sources, are the backbone of Europe’s economy.

Bernd Schäfer, CEO of EIT RawMaterials

EIT RawMaterials supports projects and new businesses that scale up and introduce new technological solutions on recycling and circularity. These are aimed at driving the process of transformation, improving both the amount and quality of raw materials recovered from end-of-life products, industrial residues, tailings, and urban and landfill mining, while addressing sustainability and decarbonisation.

Supported and currently ongoing projects in this area include:

  • Improving battery recycling processes. The projects ReLieVe and AutoBatRec2020 intend to develop innovative closed-loop processes to recycle Li-ion batteries from electric vehicles and industrialised recycling processes in Europe that provide a sustainable raw materials source for its high-tech industry.
  • Transforming waste into useful metallurgical products. As a great deal of valuable industrial waste with high metallic content is unused, diluted with other waste streams or dumped in landfills, CarSiFer intends to produce raw materials dedicated to foundries from wastes containing carbon/graphite, silicon and metals such as carbon, silicon and iron.
  • Employing fully recyclable basalt derived mineral fibres. To reduce the energy consumption of cars, critical raw materials can be replaced by fully recyclable polymer composite materials. C2CC is developing new basalt derived mineral fibres, which are associated with thermo-set resins derived from biomass to produce Basalt-PMC. This can be chemically “cleaved” to recover both a polymer (used to produce car interiors) and the fibres (which are reused for the original components).
  • Recycling end-of-life products for new products. Even though LED allow a significant reduction in energy consumption for lighting in buildings, towns or transport, there is no technical solution for recycling LED as of today. Hence, REDLED develops a technology to recycle LED and to develop a new source of secondary resources for the circular economy.

EIT RawMaterials facilitates new technologies, research and developments

The European industrial ecosystems have a great potential to build on and to further develop disruptive solutions, which are addressing  the Circular Economy needs. However, the European Union’s economy still loses a significant amount of raw materials due to lacking recycling capacities as well as transportation and transaction inefficiencies. In addition, current waste streams are confronted with inadequate collection systems and sub-optimal sorting and recycling performance. End-of-life products must be considered as a resource for another cycle, while losses and stocks of unused materials must be minimised and valorised along the value chain as well as from a design perspective.

Bernd Schäfer, CEO of EIT RawMaterials

EIT RawMaterials carries out different activities to accelerate innovation in new technologies and to promote developments that support the raw materials industry. Our work is based on partnerships between industry, research institutes and universities, and is built on three pillars: acceleration, matchmaking & networking and the RawMaterials academy.

  • Acceleration activities ensure the development, demonstration and transfer of innovative processes, technologies, products and services towards the market. Actions range from upscaling projects to improving their success rate of market entry, and up to boosting their growth by helping to create novel businesses from innovative technologies, products and services.
  • Matchmaking & Networking activities stimulate internal links between EIT RawMaterials’ partners as well as external links with other stakeholders and initiatives. The RawMaterials Summit, last held in September 2020, gathers experts to discuss strategies concerning raw materials supply and access, innovation, entrepreneurship and education. Further actions include a digital networking, collaboration and knowledge platform (InfoCenter) or innovation events providing a forum to exchange ideas, knowledge and best practices.
  • RawMaterials Academy strives to educate the raw materials game-changers of the future. Offers include masters and PhD programmes, learning courses for professional training and projects for school pupils.