How Our CE-RISE Project is Supporting the European Circular Economy Plan

Over the long period of the industrial age, economic growth has been largely dependent on the extraction and processing of raw materials. Fast forward to today, we face a time when the need to decouple economic growth from resource use and in ways that do not exacerbate climate change has never been more urgent. The European Commission has set a milestone in global policy to combat climate change with its Circular Economy Action Plan. The CE-RISE project is a case in point how European objectives and policies can be implemented in practice and what targeted collaboration among stakeholders from different sectors can achieve.

The Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) was developed and adopted in March 2020 to accelerate transformational change while building on circular economy actions implemented since 2015.

The plan’s actions cover initiatives along the entire product life cycle, including the design of products, the promotion of circular economy processes, strengthening sustainable consumption, reducing waste and ensuring a well-functioning EU internal market for high quality secondary raw materials. By doing so, both consumers and public buyers will be empowered to participate in this transition that will benefit people, regions and cities.

One of the key product value chains within the CEAP is electronics and Information and Communications Technology (ICT), as electrical and electronic equipment remains one of the fastest growing waste streams in the EU (annual growth rates of 2%) and it is estimated that less than 40% of electronic waste is recycled in the EU.

Within the CEAP and as part of the Sustainable Products Initiative (SPI), the proposal for a new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) was published in March 2022, building on the current  Ecodesign Directive 2009/125/EC, so far only covering energy-related products. Under the new ESPR, appliances are now to be designed not only with a strong energy efficiency imperative in mind, but also with a strong focus on durability, reparability, upgradability, maintenance, reuse and recycling.

Furthermore, to achieve the goals of the SPI, the EC is requesting the introduction of Digital Product Passports (DPP), which are to be based on norms and standards. The DPP is intended to provide a response to the necessary sustainable and digital transformation of the economy and society, allowing information to be shared across the entire value chain of products and track materials and other supply chain information such as a product’s sustainability.

How our CE-RISE project supports European key objectives?

Recent crises have exposed the fragility of our globalised world, especially with respect to global supply chains and energy dependency. In light of the lessons learned, the EC has decided to minimise the loss of Secondary Raw Materials (SRMs) and optimise their reuse within value chains, highlighting the role of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) in the technological transition towards green and sustainable technologies. Furthermore, to address these challenges, the European Commission is preparing the general requirements for the establishment of the DPP.

With its focus on ICT and electronics, the CE-RISE project strives to be an enabler for the EU sustainability goals, as the potential for circularity in this sector is very high. One of the key objectives of CE-RISE is to provide solutions for the tracking and tracing of CRMs and their retention in an EU circular economy so as to become less dependent on other countries and avoid raw material waste.

A consortium from 11 EU countries is working together to develop and implement the Circular Economy Resource Information System (CE-RISE) to share detailed data on electronic products that identify optimal solutions for the effective reuse, recovery, and recycling of materials. With the support of our industry partners, CE-RISE will also develop DPPs for the various case studies for ICT products, printers, photovoltaic (PV) panels, batteries and heating systems, integrating information such as the product environmental footprint and socio-economic and environmental impacts of RE processes into the information system.

Transparency along the supply chain is key, and with the support of our partner Circularise, which offers blockchain-based technology, end-to-end supply chain traceability solutions will facilitate the tracking of materials.

The CE-RISE project will develop a system that gives stakeholders a better understanding of the environmental impact of electronic products and guidance on how to preserve important raw materials by reusing, repairing and recycling these productsEquity and digitalisation will be promoted by providing access to all kind of stakeholders, including consumers and policymakers, through an “open to all” information platform (open access software application). Re-furbishers, repair shops, or re-manufacturers will be able to access information about the products stored in the DPP like spare part lists or recommendations for the proper separation and collection of products, thus increasing the number of products and materials recirculating in the market.

For a more comprehensive read on this topic, please go to the CE-RISE website. You can find on overview of the CE-Rise project here.

For further questions, please contact Marianne Magnus-Melgar.

Photo by Laura Ockel on Unsplash.