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Metrology for the recycling of technology critical elements to support Europe’s circular economy agenda


Project timeline
June 2021
36 months
May 2024
General Information
Technology critical elements (TCE) are a group of naturally occurring elements, which are mandatory for many high level technology sectors, which are essential for Europe’s low carbon emission strategy. They are applied in many key industries such as automotive, renewable energy production and storage, energy-efficient lighting and nearly all types of electronic devices, including mobile phones (can contain up to 50 different metals), computers and sensors. What makes these elements critical is the lack of replacement for them in essential technologies (e.g. to mitigate climate change effects), their economic importance and their supply risk (stock depletion and/or dependence on few producers). In order to secure the EU’s TCE supply, as well as to minimize their potential release into the environment as emerging environmental pollutants the EU has promoted more efficient recycling and waste collection through the amended Waste Framework Directive (2018/851/EU). This should support their sustainable future usage, their minimal release into the environment as well as Europe´s circular economy agenda. Currently there is a lack of techniques, which allows TCE determination and quantification in such complex samples, which provides essential information to improve their sustainable usage as well as to understand their potential impact on the environment.
The aim of this project is to develop new methods for TCE measurements in urban mine waste and other environmental relevant matrix, giving industry and authorities a more robust framework for the sustainable usage of these elements as well as decision making in waste management, future pollution control and early environmental protection. Together with 14 partners from all over Europe Hereon will contribute in particular to the development of new fast reliable analysis methods as well as sampling and sample preparation strategies for TCEs, which are urgently needed to determine the economic value of the waste from the urban mine and of the final recycling products, as well as to decide on recycling routes and to support new R&D for recycling and environmental impact assessment. This will support the EUs Circular Economy Action Plan and help to reduce future supply risks as well as to reinforce Europe´s resilience and autonomy.
EU-Programme Acronym and Subprogramme AreaEuropean Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR)
Project TypeEMPIR Multi-beneficiary Project
Contract NumberGrant Agreement 20IND01
Co-ordinatorLaboratoire National de Métrologie et d’Essais LNE (FR)
Funding for the Project (€) Funding for Hereon (€)
Contact Person at Hereon Dr. Daniel Proefrock, Institute of Coastal Environmental Chemistry, Department Inorganic Environmental Chemistry, KUA, Phone: +49(4152)87-2846
E-mail contact
Worldwide Europe

Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (DE), Bureau De Recherches Geologiques Et Minieres (FR), Eidgenössisches Institut für Metrologie METAS (CH), ERAMET IDEAS (FR), Finnish Environment Institute SYKE (FI), Institut Za Mjeriteljstvo Bosne i Hercegovine (BA), Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (IT), Jozef Stefan Institute (SI), Laboratoire National de Métrologie et d'Essais (FR), LGC Limited (UK), Montanuniversität Leoben (AT), Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (DE), RISE Research Institutes of Sweden AB (SE), Turkiye Bilimsel Ve Teknolojik Arastirma Kurumu (TR)
Last Update: 02. June 2021