How a circular economy approach (reduce, reuse, recycle) might be leveraged to mitigate EU dependencies from critical products, components and raw materials across sensitive value chains (please see EU industrial strategy 2020). For example, the value chain of smartphones in the ICT sector is critical for the EU economy, yet during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic the supply of chips was disrupted. In this context, a circular approach based on the reuse of chips recovered from old smartphones might be relevant to mitigate the risk of similar disruptions in the future, especially considering that the semiconductor industry and related production of chips is largely based in the region of Taiwan, whose autonomy is increasingly threatened by China. Similar critical value chains include that of EV batteries, as well as those of most renewable energy technologies, where resilience is now particularly pressing to mitigate EU’s fossil fuel dependency from Russia. We are calling for multidisciplinary contributions focusing on these and other value chains, with emphasis on material flows and product engineering issues, complemented with important economic (e.g circular business models, financial flows, etc.) and geopolitical considerations (international relations, policies, etc.).
Session owners: Dr. Brian Baldassarre and Dr. Benjamin Sprecher, European Commission – Joint Research Centre.