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Waste Management and Critical Raw Materials
About this courseSkip About this course
How can we ensure the continuous supply of the increasingly scarce raw materials that are needed to make the products we use every day? In this course, we will look at the potential benefits of circular procurement and how recycling technologies and more efficient ways of collecting and recycling critical raw materials (CRMs) can make your business and production more resource resilient.
A good number of the materials found in everyday products are now referred to as "critical". This means that there is a risk of failure in their supply and that they are also critical in terms of economic importance.
Many metals, for instance, are already critical or could become critical in the near future due to their limited availability and the growing demand for products worldwide. Think of the newest electronic products that contain critical metals such as gallium, which is used in integrated circuits; beryllium, used in electronic and telecommunications equipment and permanent magnets and germanium found in infra-red optics.
Innovative product design and reusing, recycling and remanufacturing products can help to deal with a raw materials shortage. But this can only provide an integrated solution if we keep CRMs in the loop through smarter CRM management. The starting point is to identify CRMs in products. It is not always clear what materials are in which products. It is, therefore, necessary to keep all metals in the loop for as long as possible.
Scarcity in the supply chain can not only damage businesses but also negatively impact economic development and the environment. For this reason, the course will also discuss environmental issues and electric and electronic waste regulations.
This course will be of value to a wide range of professionals working in or interested in this field. These include professionals involved in producing products containing CRMs (such as electronics) as well as local or national government officials tasked with organizing waste management and recycling for these products. Students interested in the field of waste management will also find this course helpful for their studies in electronics, industrial design, and industrial ecology.
This course has received funding from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The EIT receives support from the European Union’s Horizon2020 research and innovation program.
At a glance
What you'll learnSkip What you'll learn
- Current challenges and opportunities in resource resilience
- Environmental problems caused by waste mismanagement of products that contain CRMs
- Waste collection methods and efficient collection of waste in households and at companies
- Remanufacturing, refurbishment, re-use and recycling processes of products which contain CRMs
- Waste prevention through chain optimization
- Benefits of circular procurement to keep critical raw materials in the loop through smart waste management
- How product design can support efficient recycling and remanufacturing
- How to uncover new business models to reduce waste and to make your business more resource resilient
Week 1: Urgency and challenges with critical raw materials (CRMs) and waste. How can we find out what CRMs are in products, and how can we get them back? The effects of materials shortage, future development and geo-politics on raw materials. Current waste management of products containing CRMs in general, waste management of commercial and household waste, regulation of electric and electronic waste (WEEE). Environmental problems such as leaching heavy metals from incinerator ashes and landfills. Partial metals retrieval from incinerator ashes.
Week 2: Different collection systems for recycling and remanufacturing/refurbishment, recycling psychology and the separate waste collection of commercial and household waste.
Week 3: Recycling technology: pre-processing, metallurgy and its challenges. Recycling economics and the problem of <1% (most) CRMs recycling.
Week 4: Remanufacturing and refurbishment systems: return of product (reverse logistics), disassembly and repair of the product, market demand and economics.
Week 5: Product design using better recycling or remanufacturing and refurbishment. Substitution of materials.
Week 6: New business models to generate profits from products that last longer. Circular procurement for government and companies.
About the instructors
Frequently Asked QuestionsSkip Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are Critical Raw Materials (CRMs)?
A: CRMs are raw materials that have an economic and strategic importance for the European economy, and their supply risk is high.
Q: What products contain CRMs?
A: Many products that contain metals, such as electric and electronic equipment, alloys (as stainless steel), cars and machinery.
Q: Is this course for producers?
A: Yes, this course gives producers new ideas on new business models based on obsolete products, and how to make them more resource resilient. The course also gives insight into the effect of product design.
Q: Is this course for governments?
A: Yes, this course gives governments tools to make waste management more efficient and tools to close the materials loop.
Q: Is this course only about recycling?
A: No, the course also focusses on re-use, remanufacturing and refurbishment, and shows how this can create new business opportunities. The course also covers how new business models deal with waste prevention. Other conventional waste management approaches, like incineration, will also be presented in the course.
Q: For which countries is this course relevant?
A: The course provides insights and case studies mainly from Europe (Belgium, Netherlands, France, Ireland, Italy), but also explains the general global situation of minerals shortage. Additionally, the technologies and approaches presented in the course could be applied in other countries.
Q: Is this course only about waste treatment technologies?
A: No, this course covers the technological as well as the legal and economic issues of waste management. The course includes an overview of the most important European laws and an interview with a politician and a circular procurement representative. The technological part explains recycling, re-use, re-purpose, but also collection and pre-treatment of waste containing CRMs.
More about this courseSkip More about this course
The course materials of this course are Copyright Delft University of Technology and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC-BY-NC-SA) 4.0 International License.