The EU is home to world-leading manufacturing industries, game-changing innovative technologies and an entrepreneurial infrastructure that can enable the transition to a resource-efficient, sustainable society as envisioned in the EU 2020 agenda.
Providing the sustainable supply of raw materials is vital, but the EU is highly dependent on imports of raw materials that are crucial for these core industrial activities. In particular, the supply of a range of ores, metals and rubber is vulnerable. Several European initiatives have been developed to tackle this challenge through increasing resource efficiency of current processes and products and re-thinking of the current linear economic model towards a circular approach. Increasing the supply of materials from all types of sources requires a range of technologies, infrastructures, trade measures and policies that can dynamically adjust to different resource types, availability and product compositions.
The challenge for the Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) EIT RawMaterials is to fully utilise the potential of the European industry and to revitalise the human capital in the raw materials sector.
Our three strategic objectives are:
- Securing raw materials supply. Raising awareness of the diversity and the potential of raw materials sources in Europe.
A deeper understanding of raw materials sources and of material use will provide a basis to develop new opportunities:
- Mining must be strengthened in Europe including in the Arctic and from the seabed;
- Materials supply from secondary sources must be achieved through innovation in end-of-life product recycling, extraction from industrial residues, tailings, urban and landfill mining;
- Digital technologies will enable increased resource efficiency.
- Designing solutions: Inspiring innovation in the creation of products, product-service systems, processes and wider systems across the whole life-cycle.
At the concept stage, many key decisions with significant consequences on the use of RM are taken. Powerful multi-scale modelling and decision-making support tools, based on big data, will be used to offer new opportunities in designing smarter solutions.
- Closing material loops: Raising awareness of the benefits of optimising resources and minimising losses by closing material loops amongst students, industry and society.
A radical shift is required from linear to circular thinking. End-of-life products must be considered as a resource for another cycle, while losses and stocks of unused materials must be minimised everywhere along the value chain. In addition, the interactions between materials must be considered to define the best circular solution from a systemic standpoint.
The scope of our work
EIT RawMaterials focuses on metal and mineral raw materials. Bio-based and polymer materials are covered in view of their potential as a substitute material. Other materials are also considered in the context of multi-material product recycling. As a result of our broad membership base, EIT RawMaterials has the flexibility to address critical as well as non-critical raw materials.
Six Knowledge and Innovation Themes guide the interactions between the various actors across the whole value chain:
- Exploration and raw materials resource assessment;
- Mining in challenging environments;
- Increased resource efficiency in mineral and metallurgical processes;
- Recycling and material chain optimisation for End-of-Life products;
- Substitution of critical and toxic materials in products and for optimised performance;
- Design of products and services for the circular economy.
We have developed a four-pillar approach to support and foster innovation and drive entrepreneurship along the value chain of the raw material industry: