ECOS is an environmental NGO that aims to promote a circular and low-carbon economy. Critical raw materials (CRMs) play a crucial role in this transition because of their presence in renewable energy technologies such as solar panels but also electric cars. In our increasingly digital world, our cities have become urban mines with valuable metals and CRMs everywhere in ICT and consumer equipment such as mobile phones.
Continuing to mine for raw materials is not sustainable given its environmental impacts. Besides extending product lifetime, recycling is necessary to meet the future demand without depleting mineral resources. However, CRM recycling is still marginal, too many valuable materials end up being incinerated or landfilled. ECOS aims to address this challenge not only through policies and standards, but also through active participation in innovative projects like CEWASTE.
One of the project characteristics that we found particularly appealing is the diversity of actors in the consortium, from recycling companies and research institutes, to EPR schemes and standardisation organisations. With such a broad knowledge base, CEWASTE can ensure that recycling of CRM components, such as batteries, printed circuit boards and magnets, is not only material-efficient but also sustainable. Our goal is not only to develop a certification scheme that is ambitious on paper, but also encourages best practice and creates a positive impact on the market. This will require corporate commitment, collaboration throughout the whole supply chain and policy support.