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CEWASTE: Contributing to the future of critical raw materials recycling

CEWASTE, a 2.5-year project funded by the EU’s research and innovation program,  successfully developed a voluntary certification scheme for the collection, transportation and treatment of key types of waste containing significant amounts of valuable and critical raw materials (CRMs). 

One of the fundamental first steps of the project was to identify the types of waste streams  containing high concentrations of CRMs and determine the feasibility of its recovery and recycling with current technologies. Waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) such as printed circuit boards from IT equipment, waste batteries from WEEE and from end-of-life vehicles were some of the key product groups identified. Umicore played an important role in the project as such waste streams are part of our recycling core business.  

Umicore’s participation and contribution to the project as partner of the European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA) was highly appreciated due to our expertise in the field. Our state-of-the art recycling technology recovers CRMs such as cobalt, lithium, indium, antimony, platinum group metals but also gold and silver with the highest metal yields and strictest environmental standards. One of our key contributions was to volunteer and pilot audit our treatment facility, for which we received a certificate of participation

The CEWASTE project’s final report sets clear requirements for improving recycling and recovery of CRMs. It has set a basis and benchmark for the implementation of current recycling standards and for the development of future standards for the recycling industry. The consortium of the project agreed that the CEWASTE standard should be mandatory, highlighting that the standard to recycle WEEE (EN 50625) should be legally binding. The better recovery of raw materials and CRMs needs to be high on the agenda to enable a resource efficient and circular economy.