Update of the 2015 Material System Analyses
The economic model in the European Union (EU) and all industrialized countries is based on a high level of raw material use. To ensure the secure and sustainable access to raw materials, in particular metals and non-metallic minerals, the EU has set itself the objective to reduce its consumption of raw materials and to increase the use of recycled materials.
To develop and implement sustainable resource management options, such as those of the Circular Economy Action Plan, it is key to build on reliable and consistent information on the supply and use of raw materials along the raw material value chain. A good understanding of material flows is also key to derive indicators that allow monitoring the development and analysing the potentials for and barriers to the use of recycled materials as well as potential material stocks.
Thus, with the aim of making evidence-based decisions, the European Commission launched the development of the Material System Analysis (MSA) studies in 2015, to assess the flows and stocks of materials through the EU economy and to have a good understanding of the sectors that use them, and their strategic issues. The level of details gives a very good understanding of the stakeholders involved, and to what extent the EU is autonomous or dependant on external supply (e.g. primary materials, end products, waste to be recycled in the EU).The MSA studies consider the entire life cycle of a selected material to highlight hotspots and bottlenecks in the material value chain.
The first series of 28 MSAs was published in 2015 (BIO by Deloitte, 2015), a second series covering three materials in 2018 (Passarini et al., 2018) and in 2020, five MSA were developed for battery related raw materials (Cobalt, Lithium and Natural Graphite) (Matos et al., 2020). Most recently in 2021, MSAs of 9 Raw Materials that entered the list of critical raw materials were published (Barytes, Bismuth, Hafnium, Helium, Natural Rubber, Phosphorus, Scandium, Tantalum and Vanadium).
By bringing an in depth understanding of the flows over the life cycle of a material, as well as potential bottlenecks and key sectors using that material, MSA represent support the European Commission in various processes. MSA contain key material specific data and information and support the monitoring of the circular economy, the development of the list of Critical Raw Materials (CRM) and the development of the Raw Material (RM) scoreboard.
In order for the MSA to be useful, they need to be as up to date as possible. The last analysis in 2015 uses data from 2010 to 2014, which is no longer sufficiently representative and therefore needs to be updated. To this end, in the course of the current study, the first 28 MSAs published in 2015 are to be updated. Furthermore, there is a need to expand the approach to additional materials, assessed as critical in the 2020 list but for which no MSA was previously conducted. For this purpose, new MSAs are to be developed in the current study for: strontium and titanium and for additional rare earth elements (as REEs are materials with very high supply risk, and only 6 had been covered on the previous 2015 MSA).