European Commission says WEEE could plug rare metals shortage

Posted on 5th October, 2012

Mattia Pellegrini, the European Commission’s head of unit for metals stated that waste electricals could be a vital source for rare metals at a recent WEEE forum in London.

Here, Pellegrini explained that the Commission has set up a Raw Materials Initiative to monitor European reserves of valuable metals, which had concluded that the continent is increasingly dependent on imports of materials such as platinum, beryllium, magnesium, tungsten and rare earths from overseas. Further to this the Commission is seeking to reduce Europe’s dependence on the import of critical materials, with increasing and improving WEEE recycling among its preferred options.

He said: “We import more than 90% of our critical metals into Europe, which clearly makes us one of the most heavily dependant continents in the world. To address this we have developed the strategy to ensure that there is sustainable access to raw materials and to ensure that there is a level playing field. “We are seeing from countries, particularly China, that they are looking to defend their raw materials and prevent them from being sent out of the country, so we need to find a supply of material from within the European Union.”

Pellegrini said the WEEE recycling industry in Europe is essential to ensuring that the valuable metals that are discarded in WEEE are turned back into raw materials for use in production.