6

The innovation and the research

INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS

In order that the transition to the Circular Economy can no longer concern only individual experimental initiatives but entire industrial sectors, we believe it is indispensable to study and develop innovative solutions that can guide us in that direction. Since 2016, we have been engaging ourselves in the research field in an increasingly structured and meaningful way, tightening international partnerships with research Institutions, Industrial organisations and Universities.

In particular, our research projects concern some fundamental issues, such as:

  • the improvement of the material recycling performances;

  • the correct management of the Critical Raw Materials;

  • the management optimization of the WEEE supply chain;

  • the development of the environmental awareness among the citizens.

We are steadily working to promote the environmental sustainability through the study of increasingly advanced solutions for the WEEE management. In 2018, our commitment has realized in important research Projects of international scope.

6.1

PolyCE - Post-Consumer High Tech

Recycled Polymer for a Circular Economy

Giving a new life to the WEEE plastic

Project duration: 2017 – 2021

The PolyCE Project, funded by the Horizon 2020 Program, aims to promote the use of recycled plastic in new Electrical and Electronic Equipment. The suggested innovations will be able to redesign the WEEE recycling and recovery system in order to produce sustainable and high quality post-consumer plastics: a real replacement for the virgin material.

We are one of the 20 Partners of the PolyCE Project: we collaborate in the mapping of the plastic supply chain as we know it today and, at the same time, we operatively test the feasibility of the proposed innovations, promoting the dialogue among all the subjects involved, from the manufacturers up to the plastic Recyclers.

6.2

CRM CLOSED LOOP RECOVERY

Recovery of the Critical Raw Materials and innovative methodologies for WEEE collection and treatment

Project duration: 2015 - 2019

The CRM Closed Loop Recovery Project analyses the WEEE management issue, studying the way for the recovery of the CRM they contain. In fact, for materials such as cobalt, antimony, graphite, tantalum, rare-earth metals, gold, silver, platinum and copper the recovery target has been set at 5% for 2020 and at 20% for 2030.

Different aspects has been investigated during the four phases of the project:

  • implementation of new collection methods;
  • development of new treatment methods;
  • comparison of the achieved results in different European Countries (the Project implemented in parallel trials performed by English, German and Czech partners);
  • development of specific policy recommendations for the CRM recovery.

We at ECODOM, as coordinators of the Italian trial, worked in accordance with the target of Collect more, collect better.

Collecting more means raising the public awareness on the correct disposal of specific products with a high content of critical materials, usually forgotten in drawers or disposed incorrectly; collecting better means defining the collection methods to make the subsequent treatment steps more efficient.

The Research focus - The WEEE treatment – has been optimized in the second phase of the Project, testing the effectiveness of the different approaches: the preparation for re-use of the flat panel displays, the improvement of the current WEEE treatment recovery strategies, the development of a hydro- metallurgical process for the extraction of graphite and cobalt from batteries.

6.3

SCRREEN - Solutions for Critical
Raw Materials – a European Experts Network

The European Network of Critical Raw Materials experts

Project duration: 2016 – 2019

With the creation of a European Network of experts chosen among all the players in the Critical Raw Materials supply chain, the SCRREEN Project identifies and promotes solutions for their best management. The aim is to create a permanent forum of experts able to develop an effective strategy for the responsible use of these precious resources.
Coming from the world of the industry, the civil society and the politics, the identified experts evaluate the environmental, political, social, technological and commercial aspects linked to the use of critical materials and propose solutions for their better management in the future.

Our role is to contribute to the study of the so-called urban mines: the WEEE.

We are working in collaboration with other Project Partners in the analysis of the critical raw materials quantities present in the electronic waste and that will be able to have a new life after the treatment activities. We are also dealing with the evaluation of possible improvements for the CRM recovery in the EEE eco-design and in the WEEE treatment standards.

6.4

COLLECTORS – Waste Collection Systems
Assessed and Good Practices identified

The Good Practices for the waste collection

Project duration: 2017 – 2020

The COLLECTORS Project analyses the Good Practices for the collection and the separation of three different waste categories: paper and packaging, construction and demolition waste, WEEE. Its goal is to encourage the adoption of increasingly efficient collection systems, while supporting the decision-makers in identifying the most suitable strategies to meet their needs.


The Project, which will end in June 2020, foresees a first phase in which we find an on-line inventory of the Good Practices already adopted in Europe by the most virtuous collection actors dealing with the management of the three waste categories mentioned above. We, then, have a second phase in which it is planned a thorough assessment in terms of cost/benefits at an economic, social and environmental level of twelve case studies. Finally, the third and final phase is dedicated to the drafting of guidelines for the policy makers with personalized tools and instructions in order to facilitate the work of selection and improvement of the collection facilities, based on the territorial peculiarities.

Our role within the Project is to research and balance all the needed information in order to find out the best WEEE collection solutions adopted by the different collection actors in Italy and in Europe.

6.5

RM@SCHOOL - Raw materials Ambassador at School

Promoting the knowledge of the Raw Materials and the related jobs among the young students

Project duration: 2018 – 2021

RM@Schools goes in the schools with innovative learning systems and awakens the young people interest in scientific subjects and careers. The Project aim is to involve students aged 10 to 19 years in a learning program that transmit them the knowledge on science and technology subjects of the Raw Materials, making them protagonists of practical activities and investing them with the role of the Raw materials Ambassadors through a peer education mechanism.
The Project has seen the creation of a Consortium of 19 Partners from 12 European Countries and some local networks, within each Country, including research Institutes, high schools and enterprises.


Out task is to bring the WEEE world into the schools accompanying the students out of the classrooms to visit the waste treatment plants and see closely what happens to the Raw Materials at the end of their first life cycle.

6.6

CARONTE - Continuing education and scientific
information literacy on raw materials for professionals

Training the professionals in order to create innovation

Project duration: 2017 – 2019

The CARONTE Project develops tools aimed at strengthening the information skills in the world of work. The Project aims to build online multidisciplinary educational programs to transfer the knowledge on the research process optimization, the sharing and the organization of technical-scientific information, with a specific focus on the Raw Materials, the recycling and the replacement issues.

Our role is to contribute to the identification of the training needs, the definition of the training modules and their trials in a true work environment, which will help to test their effectiveness and replicability.

6.7

InnoWEEE - Traceability and collection
system and geo-interoperability of WEEE data

The small WEEE collection becomes smart

Project duration: 2018 – 2021

The InnoWEEE Project aims to identify innovative systems for the traceability and the increase of the small WEEE collection in urban areas and to develop methods for extending the products life, based on the principles of the Circular Economy and thanks to the use of big data. The Project is divided into three different pilot actions: two in Italy - in the schools and the squares of Trento and in the shopping centers and the streets of Cava dei Tirreni - and one in England - in the Bathnes area.

Our role is to contribute to the definition of the collection events and to coordinate the logistics operationally. We also take care of selecting and coordinating the WEEE treatment operators where the evaluation activities for the preparation for reuse will take place. Thanks to our experience in the sector, we finally collaborate in the evaluation of the environmental impacts of the pilot actions tested during the Project, in terms of avoided CO2 emissions, recovered materials and energy saving.
 

6.8

C-SERVEES - Activating Circular Services
in the Electric and Electronic Sector

Circular products and services thanks to the Industry 4.0

Project duration: 2018 - 2022

With the aim of guaranteeing a more efficient use of resources in the future, the C-SERVEES Project is committed to promoting the adoption of circular business models in the Electrical and Electronic Equipment world. During the Project, in fact, we focused on the eco-leasing, the product customization, the WEEE management optimization, the management and use of ICT technologies in order to support the eco-services implementation from the Industry 4.0 perspective. Four types of commonly used products are identified: large household appliances, IT equipment, telecommunications devices and consumer equipments.

We participate in collecting the information on the feasibility of the proposed innovations, through the involvement of the relevant stakeholders in the EEE and WEEE sector. Our role also includes the drafting of guidelines that include policy recommendations aimed at overcoming the legislative barriers that currently slow down the transition toward the Circular Economy and standardization measures that facilitate the market entry of materials and products obtained from the correct WEEE treatment.

6.9

CEWASTE – Voluntary certification
scheme for waste treatment

Certifying the WEEE treatment in order to increase the Critical Raw Materials recovery

Project duration: 2018 - 2022

The CEWASTE Project goal is to improve the Critical Raw Materials recovery from specific types of waste, including WEEE, through the development of a sustainable process for the whole treatment chain. CEWASTE therefore proposes to launch a voluntary certification scheme for the waste collection, the transport and the treatment, of WEEE and batteries containing a significant quantity of Critical Raw Materials.

At ECODOM, we are committed to analysing the current limitations and obstacles associated with the Critical Raw Materials recycling and to ensuring that the certification scheme designed by the Project is efficient and lasting. We will also take charge of sharing the obtained results with the key players operating in the WEEE sector.