Circular Economy and Sustainable Development

  • Hosted an event on copper sustainability and environmental indicators
  • Developed a position on circular economy and slags and produced a special report on Metals in the Circular Economy as part of EU Raw Materials Week
  • Established a project to operationalise the concept of dissipation in Life Cycle Impact Assessment

ECI and the International Copper Association (ICA) held a successful workshop in Brussels on 31 January 2018 to discuss the key role of life cycle data in achieving a shift toward a more sustainable world. Highlighting recent industry efforts in this field—including crucial new pieces of data on life cycle inventory and analysis—the workshop demonstrated the strong sustainability profile of copper and its essential role in capturing the opportunities of the energy transition. In addition, the session opened a dialogue with European policymakers, industry representatives and academia about how to collaborate further. The event was intended by European Commission representatives, EU permanent representatives and members of academia.

Following work to prepare a position on the overall circular economy and the issue of co-products more specifically, ECI sponsored a EURACTIV Special Report called ‘Metals in the Circular Economy’, covering aspects of why metals (and copper in particular) are vital for the circular economy. The final item was an opinion piece, signed by ECI’s Dr Katia Lacasse, with tangible copper policy asks. The report was promoted across Twitter and LinkedIn and is also downloadable in PDF form. In addition to the special report, we organised a members’ dinner with EU official Peter Handley during EU Raw Materials Week in October 2018.

In line with the European Commission’s circular economy goal, and following up on the Product and Organization Environmental Footprint projects, the copper industry embarked on a plan to operationalise the Joint Research Center’s (JRC) proposed dissipation method in Life Cycle Impact Assessment through a consortium of associations and universities. The method provides an alternative to the decades-old Abiotic Depletion Potential (ADP), which overestimates potential impacts from copper production. The project aims at having an operational method by mid-2020 so it could be a possible replacement to ADP in the Environmental Footprint models. It will be an open project, with workshops and opportunities for stakeholder participation, including JRC and DG Environment.

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