Towards more sustainable management of material resources in Europe

Philip Nuss, Elina Pohjalainen, John Bacher, Shahrzad Manoochehri, Eleonora d’Elia, Simone Manfredi, Peder Jensen

Research output: Book/ReportReport

Abstract

Raw materials are essential for modern economies and the transition to a climate-neutral and sustainable Europe as laid out in the European Green Deal (EGD). However, obtaining raw materials can also be associated with adverse environmental and social impacts along the supply chain. Europe is dependent on raw material imports, e.g., for metal and metalloids required for low-carbon technologies or modern information and communication systems. Achieving the ambitious goals of the EGD, therefore, requires robust knowledge and data on primary and secondary material flows and stocks to better manage these and strengthen the competitiveness of European industry.

Against this background, the European Commission’s (EC) Raw Materials Information System (RMIS) aims at providing a structured knowledge base related to non-fuel, non-agricultural raw materials from primary to secondary sources. Among the RMIS’ overarching goals are to facilitate: (1) the availability, coherence, and quality of knowledge required by EU raw materials policies and EC services, and (2) access to key raw materials information from knowledge bases within and beyond Europe.

This report summarizes results of an ongoing cooperation between the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the EC Joint Research Centre (JRC) on compiling knowledge around the security and sustainability of raw materials. For this, relevant EEA projects and additional data sources are summarized both at EU-level and in a pilot investigation for four EIONET countries (i.e., Germany, Spain, Ireland, and Portugal), and ideas for monitoring the performance of the EU raw materials situation are presented. Using a country-questionnaire, data and knowledge available at the national level are highlighted and data needs from the perspective of the countries summarized.

Results from this study highlight that a wide range of high-quality data and information are already available to monitor the raw materials situation of individual EU countries. EIONET-countries hold detailed information with regard to: (1) mining, supply, and trade, (2) investments and the regulatory (mining) framework, (3) indicators and data about environmental, social and governance, and circular economy/resource efficiency aspects, and (4) pilot studies on emerging topics (e.g., environmental criticality or material stocks). Such information could be taken up by the RMIS in specific sections of the country profiles or dedicated tiles such as on “Member state legislation” or the “RMIS knowledge gateway”. However, some of the data and information on mining can be outside the scope of EIONET (with a focus on Europe’s environment) and future data collection efforts might involve other relevant institutions such as national geological surveys.

Some of the quantitative data needs of the EIONET-countries such as on materials stocks, footprint indicators, spending on repair, or the production of CRMs could be taken up when developing an RMIS indicators dashboard. The dashboard highlights aspects at EU member state level for the thematic areas of security of supply, material & resource efficiency, priority value chains, environmental sustainability, and social sustainability (responsible sourcing) across the EU-27 countries. Future research is required to account for additional data needs by EIONET such as on circular economy skills profiles or the residence time of materials in the economy. It is hoped that the indicator dashboard provides solid background information to complement RMIS country profiles and the EEA knowledgebase on raw materials, and to kick-off a continued exchange within EIONET on specific data/knowledge availabilities and needs.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEuropean Union
Number of pages60
ISBN (Electronic)978-92-76-59298-3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

Publication series

SeriesJRC Scientific and Technical Reports
NumberJRC131263
ISSN1018-5593

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