- A $2.3 million EU LIFE-funded project, the Critical Raw Material Closed Loop Recovery, will explore opportunities for obtaining critical raw materials (CRMs) and precious metals from old e-waste.
- The project, which will run for three and a half years, aims to use collection methods — such as curbside collections, retailer take-back programs, and postal returns — to recover CRMs. The goal of the partnership is to increase the recovery of CRMs by 5% from consumer electronics and appliances.
- The partnership joins the UK's Waste & Resources Action Program (WRAP) with the Knowledge Transfer Network, Wuppertal Institute, the European Recycling Platform, and the European Advanced Recycling Network.
In August, an investigation funded by the European Union reported that Europeans disposed of only 35% of electronic waste properly in 2012 — 3.3 million of 9.45 million tons. The rest wound up in landfills or black market sales and exports, causing both economical and environmental problems. Therefore, CRM Recovery "will explore viable alternative commercial streams that boost the economy, and sustainable solutions that reduce reliance on the earth’s natural capital and the need for mining raw materials," according to Environmental Leader.
There is much opportunity in e-waste recycling, as the global e-waste market is projected to grow to $5.04 billion by 2020. The collection methods that the EU LIFE project will use to recover CRMs will boost these projections, and show promising methods for how other areas of the world — such as the U.S. — can participate in similar recovery projects.
The UK, Germany, Italy, and Turkey will all be representing different stages of recovery development during this project. Each country's individual participation will allow for cross-comparison of findings.