EU master plan for raw materials

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Raw materials are the lifeblood of EU industry. But we face increasing demand for unprocessed minerals and metals and, in parallel, strong challenges to the supply of certain raw materials, including price volatility and market distortions. In response, the high level steering group of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials released a strategic implementation plan (SIP) describing how we can act to ensure a sustainable supply of raw materials to the European economy and make Europe a world leader in raw materials exploration, extraction, processing, recycling and substitution by 2020. The SIP outlines detailed actions which the parties involved – EU countries, companies, researchers and NGOs – can use to foster technological and non-technological innovation in our raw materials value chain, as well as in the international arena. Concrete targets of the SIP include the launch of up to 10 pilot projects to promote technologies for the production of primary and secondary raw materials, to find substitutes for at least three applications of critical and scarce raw materials as well as to create better framework conditions for raw materials in Europe. The SIP also lists actions to improve Europe’s waste management framework conditions and excellence, and to reinforce EU knowledge, skills and raw materials flows. Actions are also proposed to support an international co-operation strategy, at bilateral and multilateral level. Some examples of initiatives proposed within the 24 action areas proposed by the SIP include: new cost-effective exploration concepts and technologies providing high quality data and information; the substitution of indium in transparent conductive layers, such as those used in touch screen devices, flexible electronics, solar energy and OLED lighting (organic light-emitting diode used to create digital displays in devices such as television screens, computer monitors, portable systems such as mobile phones, handheld games consoles and PDAs); developing solutions for a better recovery and recycling of construction and demolition waste. A public “call for commitments” allows all potential stakeholders to express their concrete intention to contribute to the implementation of the SIP. A communication will follow in 2014, to explain how the European Commission, member states, industry and academia intend to implement the SIP.

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