ReCreew – European network for innovative recovery strategies of rare earth and other Critical metals from electrical and electronic waste
Critical metals (CM) which include rare earth metals (REM) are essential and important for the production of electrical and electronic equipment. An increasing demand for green and information technology products could lead to a scarcity of these resources in future and a dependency on a very few supply countries. Currently the extraction of CM from ores is energy intensive and involves environmental risks due to the toxic chemicals involved. An alternative source for CM is Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Through the currently applied recycling processes of this complex waste stream REM are lost completely. Moreover, inadequate recycling approaches in developing countries are causing severe sanitary and environmental damages. Hence, it is essential to develop effective and ecologically sound systems, including concerted collection, pre-treatment and refining processes for an utmost efficient recovery. Due to these manifold challenges the recovery of CM from WEEE cannot be solved on a national level. Experts from all process phases should create an interdisciplinary, transnational alliance in the pan-European context. Against this background the proposed COST Action ReCreew aims to create a European network for innovative CM recovery in order to support the supply of European industries while reducing environmental hazards on global scale.