Publications

Webinar: Project presentation

In this video, Maria Antikainen (VTT) gives a presentation of the Urban Symbiosis project, and presents the first project results.

Video screen

Webinar: What are the main tensions in the Circular Supply Chain?

In this video, Bruno Oliveira (Hanken) presents the results of a literature review discussing “What are the main tensions in the Circular Supply Chain?”.

Based on a Paradox lens, Bruno presents four clusters of tensions in the Circular Supply Chain: Product and Business Model; Knowledge and Skills; Stakeholder Collaboration; and lack of Policy and Standards. The results can help practitioners concentrate on finding alternative pathways for a more circular future.

Video screen


Conference paper:

From policies to circular innovation – critical raw materials in cities

Ensuring secure and sustainable supply of critical raw materials (CRMs) is at the core of EU’s political priorities for the twin transition. This requires innovations in enhancing circularity of these materials. The cities could have an important role supporting transition on a variety of business ecosystems. In this study, we explore the means cities have identified to boost circularity of critical raw materials. Supported by a conversational AI tool (Bard), we first analysed how CRMs are considered in the circularity agendas of cities. The results showed that the current focus lies at end-of-life phase of products and recycling. The second phase was an interview based deep dive into the innovation potential and drivers and barriers related to circularity of CRMs. At the landscape of CRMs, the cities have both direct and indirect influence on circularity. Circular procurement and Public-private-partnership (PPP) can directly affect circularity while training and education can be efficient indirect actions.

Authors: Arnold M., Petänen P. and Valkokari K.
Presented at: ISPIM Connects Salzburg – The Sound of Innovation. Lappeenranta University of Technology, LUT Scientific and Expertise Publications: Reports, ISPIM Connects Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria, 11/12/23.
https://cris.vtt.fi/en/publications/from-policies-to-circular-innovation-critical-raw-materials-in-ci


Conference presentation:

Urban symbiosis concepts for sustainable circular loops of CRMs containing products

In response to the pressing need for resource conservation, especially critical materials in high-tech products, this paper addresses the challenges hindering the transition to a circular economy. This paper explores new sustainable value co-creation models between multiple actors in cities for increasing the circularity of selected high technology products, containing critical raw materials (CRMs). Focusing on e-bikes as a case study, which heavily relies on critical raw materials (CRMs) for components like batteries and motors, the research explores innovative value co-creation models among various city actors to increase circularity. The study emphasizes the potential of networked business models, examining their optimization and operationalization for closer loops of CRMs. By aligning with the 9R framework, the paper identifies emerging business opportunities and the role of public actors, particularly cities, in supporting environmentally and socially sustainable circularity. The findings unveil diverse circular supply chain configurations that promote urban symbiosis, contingent on contextual conditions for effective implementation.

Authors: Arnold M. and Valkokari K.
Presented at: Rethinking Value – Resources For Planetary Wellbeing – World Resource Forum ‘23, Geneva 4-6.9.2024
Urban symbiosis concepts for sustainable circular loops of CRMs containing products — VTT’s Research Information Portal


Kriittisten raaka-aineiden kiertotalous EU:n politiikkatavoitteena

Suikkanen, Johanna & Turunen, Topi (2023), Suomen ympäristökeskus
Kriittisten raaka-aineiden kiertotalous EU:n politiikkatavoitteena (helsinki.fi)

The circular economy of critical raw materials as an EU policy objective
To make headway in the green transition, the European Union has drawn attention to the availability of critical raw materials, both virgin and recycled ones. Circular economy has been proposed as a solution for improving the availability of raw materials needed for the green transition. This report discusses the extent to which EU policy objectives and actions encourage the circular economy of critical raw materials. The report is based on a document analysis of European Commission communications (COM) and related staff working documents (SWD). The documents illustrate the policy objectives, outlined actions and legislative proposals as well as the challenges associated with critical raw materials.

Since the EU Raw Materials Initiative was published in 2008, critical raw materials management policy has evolved in different policy areas, including raw materials policy, circular economy, industrial and economic strategies and strategic action plans on mobility and batteries. During the period under review, numerous communications outlining objectives and measures have been published which look to the circular economy for improving access to critical raw materials. In particular, the lists of critical raw materials (2011, 2014, 2017, 2020, 2023) and the communication and legislative proposal on critical raw materials published on 16 March 2023 point the direction for objectives set out in other documents.  Three legislative processes of particular importance are currently ongoing in the EU: the proposals for an Ecodesign Regulation, Battery Regulation and Critical Raw Materials Regulation. Each of the proposed regulations contains new policy instruments that can promote the recycling of critical raw materials in the future.

Promoting the circular economy is one of the objectives in managing critical raw materials that comes up consistently in different policy areas. The main goal is to promote the recycling of critical raw materials in the internal European market and the availability of recycled materials. The proposed regulations mainly focus on recycling certain critical raw materials found in batteries and, under the Critical Raw Materials Regulation, also in permanent magnets. Additional requirements may be expected in the future as the Ecodesign Regulation and the Critical Raw Materials Regulation are implemented. Proposed non-legislative policy instruments include standards for recycling, RDI funding and pilot projects, competence development, and exploring and exploiting the resources contained in waste.  Together these measures lay the foundation for promoting the circular economy of critical raw materials in the EU.


Oikeudelliset käsitteet, sääntelyobjektit ja ympäristösääntely

Turunen Topi, Ympäristöjuridiikka 1/2023, s. 34–51.

Kuvaelma artikkelista:  Ympäristö- ja terveydensuojelua käsittelevä sääntely kohtaa jatkuvan haasteen vastata uuteen tieteelliseen tietoon. Tunnistetut ympäristöongelmat ovat entistä monimutkaisempia, ja tämä asettaa haasteita sääntelylle. Jotta sääntelyllä voitaisiin suoraan puuttua eri ongelmiin, on ongelmat ensin pystyttävä kääntämään sääntelyn kielelle. Esimerkiksi mikromuovien säänteleminen on ollut hankalaa, koska ei ole yhtenäistä käsitystä tai määritelmää sille, mitä mikromuoveilla tarkoitetaan. Voidaankin katsoa, että oikeudellisilla määritelmillä ja käsitteillä on olennainen asema ympäristöongelmien hallinnassa: Ne voivat muuttaa alun perin ei-oikeudelliset ilmiöt hallittaviksi sääntelyobjekteiksi. Sääntelyobjekti on ensisijaisesti – institutionaalista tai reaalista – ilmiötä kuvaava edustus, ei itse ilmiö. Oikeudellisen hermeneutiikan käsitteistön näkökulmasta sääntelyobjektilla tarkoitetaan normipremissin kannalta merkityksellistä faktapremissiä, jolle voidaan antaa lainopillisen metodin kautta oikeudellinen merkityssisältö. Kuitenkin sääntelyobjektin normiulottuvuus itsessään määrittää linssin, jonka kautta arvioidaan, onko jokin seikka oikeudellisesti merkityksellinen vai ei. Oikeudellinen merkitys voi syntyä kun ilmiö käännetään oikeudelliselle kielellä antamalla lainsäädännössä uusi määritelmä, joka luo perustan sääntelyobjektin syntymiselle, tai kun jonkin olemassa olevan määritelmän katsotaan soveltuvan kyseiseen ilmiöön ja sille voidaan antaa merkitys sitä koskevien normien kautta. Joka tapauksessa oikeudellinen merkityksellisyys rakentuu aina muiden merkitysten kautta. Tämä kirjoitus tarkastelee sääntelyobjektien asemaa sekä niihin liitettäviä merkityssisältöjä ympäristöoikeudellisessa sääntelyssä ja ympäristöongelmien hallinnassa.


Conference paper: Towards Urban Symbiosis of critical raw materials – a conceptual paper

Regions and national economies are facing several challenges regarding raw materials. As cities and metropolitan areas are increasingly becoming hubs of economic activity, they may also play a role in addressing raw material challenges. Many eco-industrial parks are not only found in industrial areas but also in urbanised areas the concept of urban symbiosis may offer viable solutions to those challenges. Urban symbiosis builds on urban and regional metabolism and industrial symbiosis, providing a concept and analytical toolkit that can serve to develop strategies to create the more efficient use and circulation of critical raw materials (CRM), enabled by the integration of different and complex systems. In advancing urban symbiosis it is important to understand what kind of roles cities can have in the urban symbiosis as well exploring concrete models of collaboration and new ways of joint value creation in urban symbiosis ecosystems.

Authors: Maria Antikainen (VTT), Mona Arnold (VTT), Päivi Kivikytö-Reponen (VTT), David Lazarevic (SYKE)

The paper was presented at KES-SDM conference in Split, Croatia, September 2022

The full paper is available here.


Conference paper: Increasing circularity of high-tech products by multi-stakeholder value optimisation

The work explores new sustainable value creation models in cities for increasing the circularity of selected high technology products containing CRMs. The focus was on CRMs in smart buildings and their renewable energy solutions.

In the short-term perspective, enabling increased recycling of batteries and solar panels can have the largest impacts on circularity. To ensure increased circularity in the future, other options, such as leasing combined with takeback systems, reuse, maintenance, repair and refurbishment, other sharing models should be considered for optimal resource use, and lifespan extension for critical materials. Cities can take a considerable stronger role in promoting such strategies, notably by, firstly, applying them on public buildings and construction and generally incorporating circularity criteria more strongly in their procurement.

Authors: Mona Arnold (VTT), Päivi Kivikytö-Reponen (VTT), Maria Antikainen (VTT)

The paper was presented at ISPIM Connects-conference in Athens, Greece, November 2022.

The full paper is available here.