Trials begin for collection and recovery of critical raw materials from electrical waste

Following a competitive tender exercise, the Critical Raw Material Closed Loop Recovery project has announced that Axion Consulting and Re-Tek from the UK, together with Ecodom from Italy, will be funded to trial novel ways of boosting the recovery of critical raw materials (CRMs) from household waste electrical and electronic products (WEEE).

The CRM collection mechanisms include retailer take-back schemes, reuse containers at household waste recycling centres, business collections, university drop-off hubs, school collections and other collection events.

With a focus on the recovery of cobalt, antimony, graphite, tantalum, rare earth elements, gold, silver, platinum group metals and copper, the trials will study the potential for range of techniques from manual and chemical dismantling to electrochemical and hydrometallurgical processes, to  increase recovery of Critical Raw Materials.

The EU LIFE funded Critical Raw Material Closed Loop Recovery project is investing over €400,000 in these trials to help boost the recovery of CRMs from discarded household products such as small appliances and electronic devices.

The trials will start during July 2016 and will be completed by 30 June 2018. Further trials in Germany and Turkey are anticipated to run later this year.

Jane Gardner of Axion Consulting said:
“Axion Consulting is very pleased to be involved in this project working with a strong consortium of partners including DixonsCarphone, DHL EnviroSolutions, E3 Recycling Ltd and ITRI Ltd. We are looking forward to working with our partners to trial different ways to engage with consumers to encourage them to return WEEE to retailers, and measure the impact this has on the volume and quality of material collected. The WEEE collected will then be processed using technologies which are at the forefront of CRM recovery techniques.”

Re-tek said:
“Re-tek and our Collaboration partners, Enscape Consultancy and University of West of Scotland are delighted to have secured funding to participate in the WEEE Collection and CRM recover Trials.
The award recognises the strength of the entire team and reflects the benefit of collaborative working where each organisation is using its expertise to create an innovative way to capture and extract.
Successful collection and extraction methods during the trial will advance the opportunity to recover Cobalt, Gold and Silver from ICT products for re-use activities helping to create a more sustainable supply. The team will be happy to hear from local authorities, educational establishments, companies (private and third sector) interested in collaborating with us on this exciting programme.”

Ecodom said:
“Ecodom is proud to bring its contribute to the evaluation of the opportunities to increase Critical Raw Materials (CRM) recovery from WEEE, by implementing the Italian collection trials in Milano.
These trials will focus on the small electronic appliances, which will be collected in a smarter way: the equipment containing CRM will be concentrated in specific flows, avoiding cherry picking of components and damage of the appliances, in order also to investigate the potential for reuse.”

Each year around 9.9 million tonnes of WEEE are 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 and by 20% by 2030.

The collection and recovery trials are the first stage in the €2.1m, three-and-a-half-year project, which 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. The outputs from the trials will inform policy recommendation throughout the EU.

Project partners include the European Recycling Platform (ERP), the European Advanced Recycling Network (EARN), the Wuppertal Institute and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

View further details about the tender awards and the CRM Closed Loop Recovery project:

Recently on – a blog by Scott Butler (ERP) on Critical Raw Material Recovery

News3-ERPYou may be seeing a bit more of project partner Scott Butler (regional director for the UK & Ireland at ERP) in the coming weeks and months, with Scott now a regular blogger on

The first blog from 5 November 2015 focuses on raw materials and our Critical Raw Material Recovery project – Thanks Scott!

Read on Raw materials: Not the next gold rush, but…

Launch of LIFE funded projects

LifePNGGeorgina Taylor (WRAP) presented the Critical Raw Material Recovery project at the recent launch of work funded by the EU LIFE programme. This accompanies a recent announcement by the European Commission that 96 projects out of over 1000 applications have been approved for co-funding through the LIFE programme with a total investment of €160.6 million.  The Critical Raw Material Recovery project joins 5o other projects, that will be realised thanks to the LIFE Environment & Resource Efficiency component of the overall programme. Read more…

The list and descriptions of the 96 approved projects is available at

Wuppertal Institute at Workshop: Rückgewinnung von Edel- und Sondermetallen

News1-WIWuppertal Institute used the opportunity to present the objectives and approach of the Critical Raw Material Recovery project at a workshop on recovery of precious and special metals that took place in Berlin on 02 November 2015. The workshop was organised by the German Environment Protection Agency (UBA) and offered various opportunities to interlink the project with other ongoing activities and institutions in this field.

See also: “Recycling precious and special metals: a call for coordinated action”