The Urban Mine Platform: a European database to support the circular economy

© Brian Kostiuk

In 2016, 12.3 million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) were produced in Europe, an average of 16.6 kg per inhabitant. When they are recycled, these rapidly-growing waste streams (plus 3% to 5% per year in the European Union) are an important source of secondary raw materials, and in particular of critical raw materials and precious metals. But in 2016, only 35% of this waste was collected across the continent. In an effort to improve our knowledge of these waste streams and to encourage their recycling, the ProSum project (Prospecting Secondary raw materials in the Urban mine and Mining wastes), funded by the European Union and the Swiss government, has developed the Urban Mine Platform, the first European data platform dedicated to this subject.

This open-access database contains all the available data from the 28 member countries of the European Union, plus Norway and Switzerland, regarding the market inputs, stock in use and hibernated, composition and waste flows of WEEE, batteries and end-of-life vehicles. End-of-life vehicles (ELV) indeed produce between 8 and 9 million tonnes of high-value waste in the European Union. The data on the platform comes from very diverse sources, and has been structured and harmonised for greater clarity and to allow users to produce personalised reports. The 800 source documents used to create the database can also be accessed on the platform.

This innovative initiative will provide decision-makers, businesses and industrial manufacturers with a global and centralised tool to improve the recycling of waste, to speed up the transition to a circular economy and to secure the supply of strategic raw materials on a European scale. 

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