The VERAM project has developed a Vision and Roadmap for European Raw Materials in 2050, based on raw materials research and innovation (R&I) coordination. This EU-funded initiative brought together the knowledge and visions from five European Technology Platforms (ETPs), representing different raw material intensive industrial sectors, including forestry, chemistry, construction, mineral resources and advanced materials.
European and global industries demand high quality raw materials, that are supplied by mining and quarrying activities or extracted from the urban mine. In some sectors, such as steel, aluminium, and paper, the use of secondary raw materials is already mainstream, while for other industries and materials many obstacles and challenges still have to be overcome.
One of the priority areas in the VERAM 2050 Roadmap is the closing of material loops by maximising the recycling of products, buildings and infrastructure. One of the corresponding key research and innovation areas calls for increasing material recovery, by efficient detection, sorting, and separation. Special attention is given to the recycling of critical raw materials (CRM), where significant deficits still exist, with low collection rates from consumer products and low recycling rates for most technology metals.
The required associated research and innovation activities that were identified by the project partners include, among others, the development of new education and awareness instruments to increase collection rates among citizens, and the improvement of paper collection systems and sorting technologies for enhanced paper quality.
Project partners believe that by 2050, innovative collection systems will have contributed to significantly improved recycling rates of critical and technology metals and of composite materials, as well as to enhanced extraction from secondary sources in all Member States. These achievements will expand the overall availability of resources for the European economy and make a crucial contribution to maintaining the EU’s independence from external supplies of raw materials. Furthermore, VERAM partner are convinced that multilateral, international cooperation through dedicated networks and logistical platforms will be in place, maintaining the viability of collection, recovery, recycling and transport of waste and materials. In such context, a vital industrial symbiosis has emerged, underpinning EU-based businesses.