Published 6 months ago.
About a 4 minute read.
The report from CISL's Corporate Leaders Group showcases the challenges, opportunities and business best practices of embracing more circular practices in CRM use through case studies from Ball, Volvo Cars and more.
The Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) Europe’s Materials & Products Taskforce has released a new report in partnership with Germany's Wuppertal Institute that highlights the urgent need for more circularity in critical raw materials.
Embracing circularity: A pathway for strengthening the Critical Raw Materials Act
is a direct response to the EU’s proposal for the Critical Raw Materials
(CRMA) that offers a comprehensive look at critical
raw materials that considers geopolitics, policies and business case studies.
True circularity is far more than just recycling — it also involves looking at
how to keep the value of materials in the system more effectively and for
longer. The report maintains that this aspect of circularity is not sufficiently
addressed by the current CRMA proposal.
Centering on three key materials — aluminum (bauxite and magnesium),
lithium and rare earth elements, the report builds on
evidence-based research; it also includes circular case studies from businesses
including Ball, Umicore
and Volvo Cars; and provides recommendations to
Raw materials play a crucial role in the transition to a cleaner economy —
particularly, in the manufacturing of solar panels, wind
and electric vehicle
As a result, demand in the EU is set to soar over the coming years — lithium
demand in particular is expected to be 12 times higher in the EU by 2030; and,
globally, 90 times higher by 2050.
But with 24 of the materials listed in the CRMA imported from China, plus
the environmental damage and societal impact of more domestic mines in Europe,
the importance of the EU’s strategic autonomy has come into sharper focus.
The report from CLG Europe — one of several Corporate Leaders Groups convened by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
(CISL) — asserts that a circular economy in the
EU would increase security of supply for critical raw materials. Circular
practices require a more deliberate shift towards reuse
which could play a key role in managing supply.
“Global competition is heating up around key materials and the climate is
heating up in response to our carbon emissions; but by adopting a more circular
economy, Europe can turbocharge its response to both challenges in one go,” says
Chief Systems Change Officer at CISL. “As the EU negotiates its Critical Raw
Materials Act, it should seize the opportunity to scale up circularity. European
policymakers should look to learn from how leading businesses across sectors are
already implementing a wide range of circular solutions in critical raw
materials use; and facilitate the finance flows and flexible, targeted policies
needed to take these approaches to scale — accelerating the EU’s journey to
climate neutrality and strategic autonomy.”
The report showcases the challenges, opportunities and business best practices
of embracing more circular practices in CRM
using case studies from members of the Materials & Products Taskforce and other
identified company stakeholders along the value chains of lithium, aluminum and
rare earth elements;
examples include materials technology company Umicore — which has developed
with capacity for 7,000 tonnes per year, and aluminum packaging giant
target to achieve 90 percent recycling and an 85 percent recycled content target
Implement a more comprehensive circular approach within the CRMA, rather
than focusing only on recycling.
Set a flexible approach towards circularity within the CRMA that recognizes
the need for a case-by-case approach.
Deploy forward-looking infrastructure to enable a systems-wide circular
Set a clear overall vision on a European Industrial Strategy that combines
circularity, carbon neutrality and further sustainability aspects.
Create more environmentally and socially sustainable supply chains by
and promoting responsible mining
Implement financial incentives and support schemes to expedite the
commercial viability of a shift towards clean technologies.
“Shifting to a circular economy is vital in achieving a climate-neutral and more
competitive EU by 2050,” says We Mean Business
Coalition CEO María
Mendiluce. “Enhanced circularity
should also be applied to the growing usage of critical raw materials, given
their essential role in the green and digital transitions. The EU’s Critical Raw
Materials Act is a welcome development, but it needs to go beyond the narrow
focus on recycling; and it needs to be properly embedded into the broader
industrial and sustainability strategy of the EU. Policymakers should aim to
enable a systems-wide circular economy that fully harnesses the economic,
environmental and social benefits of circularity — and this report provides
essential recommendations on this matter.”
Published Aug 9, 2023 2pm EDT / 11am PDT / 7pm BST / 8pm CEST