Mitigating issues of future wastes: enhancing resource productivity in emerging technologies

Posted on: 07/08/2018

The Royal Society of Chemistry is organising an event on the 5th September, exploring resource productivity in emerging technologies.

Background to event

Humanity faces the threat of irreversible and significant climate change and imminent global resource security crises for many materials, particularly ‘critical’ raw materials (CRMs) which are vital components of the very ‘green’ technologies upon which climate change mitigation strategies heavily rely. Enhanced global resource efficiency is necessary along with widespread deployment of green technologies, which creates greater demand for CRM primary resources. Adoption of circular economy provides a means to mitigate these issues whilst enhancing the retention and productivity of material resources within economies and mitigating issues resulting from wastes arising from the lifecycles of these technologies, which at their end-of-life will become waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

WEEE is the fastest growing waste stream on the planet with annual global generation having reached ~50 million tonnes accounting for 5% of all municipal solid waste. The enormous quantities of WEEE generated around the world represent a growing risk to human health and the environment due to the great variety of toxic substances found in WEEE. The high content of CRMs in WEEE which are not efficiently recovered represents a global resource security crisis. Despite this, WEEE represents a considerable opportunity as a secondary resource rich in CRMs, and developing this resource will be essential to meet materials demands from emerging technologies in coming years.

The necessity to adopt practices which enhance resource productivity in emerging technologies and our energy sector, as well as the promotion of well-functioning markets for secondary raw materials is reflected in the UK Industrial Strategy which sets these objectives as national priorities in the interest of achieving clean growth and sustainable economic development. This will require considerable progress for emerging technologies in the areas of: product design for disassembly/refurbishment/remanufacturing and recycling; materials substitution; manufacturing from recovered components/materials; fabrication efficiency; technology for efficient materials recovery from WEEE including CRMs; technologies for separation and generation of high purity raw materials from end-of-life products for manufacturing; and new materials sets which are compatible with end-of-life processes.

Purpose of the Event

Progress in resource efficiency in throughout emerging technologies lifecycles will require multi-disciplinary collaborative R&I between academia and industries involved in all stages of product lifecycles; and support from additional key stakeholders including government, professional bodies, NGOs and consultancies. ‘Mitigating issues of future wastes: enhancing resource productivity in emerging technologies’ will bring together these partners to explore challenges in lifecycle optimisation of emerging products which generate, store and use electricity. The event will provide an opportunity for industry and other crucial stakeholders to engage with the world class UK research base in order to:

  • Identify opportunities to‚Ķ ‚Äòreduce raw material demand and waste in our energy systems and lifecycles of emerging technologies, and create well-functioning markets for secondary materials‚Äô.
  • Identify current or best practice in lifecycles of products.
  • Examine key challenges for lifecycle optimisation of emerging energy generating, storage and using products which chemistry can help to address.
  • Establish new links between academia & industry which enable collaborative demand driven R&I to tackle these lifecycle challenges.
  • Provide an overview of funding and other support mechanisms for collaborative R&I in these areas.


Find out more and register for the event here.

Interested in Critical Raw Materials?

KTN are a project partner in the EU LIFE funded “Critical Raw Material Recovery Closed Loop“¬†project, which is investing in trials exploring novel ways of boosting the collection and recovery of critical raw materials (CRMs) from household waste electrical and electronic products (WEEE).

Each year millions of tonnes of WEEE is generated in the EU, but only 30% is reported as properly collected and recycled. The Critical Raw Materials Closed Loop Recovery Project aims to increase the recovery of target CRMs by 5% by 2020.  The €2.1m, three-and-a-half-year project, is supported by the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union, Innovate UK, the Welsh Government and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and led by WRAP.  Other project partners include; the European Recycling Platform (ERP), the European Advanced Recycling Network (EARN) and the Wuppertal Institute.

Want to find out more?

Register for the newsletter here, or follow the CRM project on Twitter or LinkedIn.


Share this article


Connect with Innovate UK Business Connect

Join Innovate UK Business Connect's mailing list to receive updates on funding opportunities, events and to access Innovate UK Business Connect's deep expertise. Please check your email to confirm your subscription and select your area(s) of interest.