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Critical appraisal of recycling indicators used in European criticality exercises and circularity monitoring

: Tercero Espinoza, Luis A.

Fulltext urn:nbn:de:0011-n-6381266 (719 KByte PDF)
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Created on: 20.7.2021

Resources policy : the international journal of minerals policy and economics 73 (2021), Art. 102208, 9 pp.
ISSN: 0301-4207
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer ISI ()
recycling; Circular economy indicators; critical raw materials

Recycling indicators are an important part of criticality assessments and circularity reporting. This paper examines the definitions of recycling indicators used in EU reporting, compares and contrasts them with definitions from the literature, and probes their fitness for use in European criticality studies and circularity reporting. In particular, it is shown that the end-of-life recycling input rate (, the material-centric indicator used both in criticality assessments and circular economy monitoring) is inappropriate on its own for measuring progress in the circular economy. The reason is that its value strongly depends on the lifetime of products and on demand growth, obscuring the efficacy of the waste management system, which is more directly reflected by the end-of-life recycling rate for individual elements. Furthermore, the differences in definition of used in EU reporting vs. the literature can be misleading and impedes direct comparison with other regions. The data basis is also key in appropriately measuring recycling performance. Since the EU has undertaken significant efforts to improve the information basis for recycling indicators, a progression of estimates of recycling indicators between the last two criticality exercises is reported and discussed. Finally, a critical review of the current status of the is presented, leading to recommendations for better use and communication of recycling indicators in European documents on the topics of raw materials criticality and circularity monitoring.