The transition to a circular economy is considered crucial and governments around the world incentivise companies to uptake e-waste recycling and other sustainable practices with new regulation.
As highlighted by the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA) Action Plan, boosting supply security through better cooperation among stakeholders is a top priority. The global Rare Earth Industry Association (REIA) is a global association aiming to enable sustainable, responsible, collaborative and transparent Rare Earth Value chains, from mining to recycling. REIA provides a platform for stakeholders to network; conducts research and develops strategies and supply chain standards. In the project, REIA will provide knowledge on the supply chain stakeholders and processes. Furthermore, it will develop its own standard and engage stakeholders in the demonstration.
Titled ‘Rare Earth Magnets and Motors: A European Call for Action,’ the report outlines current and projected European demand for Rare Earth Elements and steps which should be taken to secure their supply. “The EU has committed to the goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050. The raw materials needs to facilitate this energy transition are massive, and Europe urgently needs to secure their supply. This Action Plan outlines the steps we must take to ensure that the rare earth elements upon which the EU Green Deal relies remain available for European industry and society,” Bernd Schäfer, CEO of EIT RawMaterials – the Innovation Community which manages the European Raw Materials Alliance, said in the report.
For rare earth metals suppliers, this means not only becoming more sustainable but also proving their compliance and quality criteria to customers and regulators. Demand for rare earth metals is skyrocketing and by 2030 it is projected to reach 315,000 tonnes. These rare earth metals are irreplaceable in 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.
The world’s largest pump manufacturer Grundfos is partnering with BEC GmbH, Circularise, Minviro, and the global Rare Earth Industry Association (REIA) to lead a three-year EIT RawMaterials funded innovation project to build a blockchain based Circular System for Assessing Rare Earth Sustainability (CSyARES).
This will help companies improve transparency and sustainability of their supply chains when it comes to critical and rare earth materials. In this project, the partnering organizations aim to:
1. Integrate REIA’s standards on assessing sustainable performance and Minviro’s LCA tool with Circularise’s blockchain software for supply chain traceability and transparency.
2. Allow Grundfos and BEC GmbH to test the system and business model and trace and measure the environmental impact of their supply chains. This will be conducted in cooperation with members of REIA.
This project will contribute to the circular economy transformation in the rare earth elements, electric and electronic equipment, automotive, and all other sectors that depend on rare earths. It will create new business opportunities for manufacturers and recyclers and allow downstream players to ensure sustainable practices throughout their supply chains.