Towards Improved Monitoring of Raw Materials in Europe
Europe relies on reliable and robust knowledge on materials stocks and flows to promote innovation along the entire value chain of raw materials. Using the analogy of biological systems, (Frosch and Gallopoulos 1989) envisioned an economy in which flows of energy and materials are optimized, waste generation is reduced, and by-products are beneficially used in co-located processes. Recently, the European Commission (EC) launched a Circular Economy Package to stimulate Europe’s transition toward a more circular economy (EC 2015). Against this background, it is essential to better understand Europe’s societal metabolism, i.e., to regularly monitor the material flows and stocks within the EU economy, their level of circularity, and highlight data gaps and possible research areas for the future. Securing undistorted access to raw materials is also important to stimulate investment in innovation and new technologies. In the EU, a lot of raw material relevant information and data are generated by Member States and within scientific projects (including those funded by the EU). However, this knowledge is often scattered and difficult to access. This presentation will summarize ongoing efforts by the EC Directorate General Joint Research Centre (DG JRC) to enhance the monitoring of materials stocks and flows in Europe and present first results. The Raw Materials Information System (RMIS) acts as the central component of the EU’s Knowledge Base on Raw Materials and aims to help in monitoring the raw materials situation in Europe across the whole life-cycle, i.e., from resource extraction to material processing to manufacturing and fabrication to use and then to collection, processing, and disposal. The material flow analysis (MFA) module of the RMIS provides in-house developed MFA studies and trade information for various materials, and links to external MFA research efforts. This includes, e.g., Sankey visualizations of the circular flow of major materials categories and MFAs for 28 critical materials in the EU (BIO by Deloitte 2015). The Raw Materials Scoreboard provides overarching indicators and integrates, in one place, knowledge from governments, academia, and business on the provision and use of raw materials in Europe and beyond. The revised EU criticality methodology aims at improved capturing of the economic importance and potential supply disruptions of raw materials. Together these tools and platforms allow a more integrated assessment of raw materials, inform EU policy making, and manage resource use more wisely.
Material Flow Visualizations in the EU
Europe relies on reliable and robust knowledge on materials stocks and flows to promote innovation along the entire value chain of raw materials. The concept of the circular economy, recently adopted by the European Commission, aims at maintaining the value of products, materials, and resources in the economy for as long as possible, and minimize waste generation. One of the prerequisites for better monitoring materials use across the whole life-cycle is a good understanding of material stocks and flows. The goal of this work stream is thus to show how readily available statistical information can be used to generate a Sankey diagram of material flows and their circularity in the 28 member states of the European Union (EU-28).
Supply Chain Risk Assessment Using Network Analysis and Criticality Metrics
Increasing product complexity, outsourcing of supply chains, and globalization, have resulted in increasingly complex and dynamic supply chains. A supply chain can be considered as a complex system comprised of a set of activities, workers, technological and physical infrastructure and policies related to the acquisition of raw materials and their subsequent conversion into finished and semi-finished products. Supply chain risk can be defined as the danger of disruption to supply chain continuity as measured by its impact and probability, where supply chain continuity corresponds to “the uninterrupted flow of materials, finances and information forward and backward within the supply chain”. The goal of this research is to explore how criticality indicators and complex network measures may benefit product-platform risk identification and analysis within supply chain networks. For this, we are investigating whole metal networks as well as supply chains from the perspective of a single sector/product platform.
- Mapping Supply Chain Risk of Product Platform
- Structural Investigation of Aluminum in the US Economy using Network Analysis
Increasing the Scope of Abiotic Resource Evaluations in Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA)
The long-range goal of this research program is to expand the breadth of resource evaluations in life cycle sustainability assessments (LCSA) – consisting of environmental LCA, social LCA, and life cycle costing – by incorporating insights from various methodologies (e.g., criticality, network analysis, material flow analysis, system dynamics, and social corporate responsibility) to more holistically evaluate abiotic resources. The central hypothesis is that LCSA offers a robust framework for integrating many of the tools, approaches, and data sets developed by different scientific communities to more holistically evaluate natural resource use at varying spatial levels. These objectives will be addresses by expanding existing research on the criticality of metals and metalloids and their environmental implications.