The European Commission has published a 3-part report on Critical Raw Materials (CRMs), on which stakeholder comment is invited. The stated objectives are to provide key data sources, promote best practices and identify possible further actions. The CRMs considered are 27 of the updated EU Critical Raw Material List (2017), so including both “phosphate rock” and “phosphorus” (meaning white phosphorus P4). The report estimates that 86% of phosphate rock (and also 24% of boron) are used in fertilisers, and 90% of white phosphorus in chemicals. It is noted that phosphorus recycling in biogenic wastes (manure, animal by-products, food wastes, wastewater) is “functional” and replaces primary phosphate rock consumption, as well as helping reduce eutrophication. The revision of the EU Fertilisers Regulation is presented, but no best practices are identified relevant to phosphorus. Horizon 2020 and LIFE projects addressing CRMs are noted: but none concerning phosphorus recycling. Proposed further EU policy actions potentially relevant to phosphorus include: recovery of CRMs from landfill, and development or optimisation of technologies or chemical processes for safe recycling or reuse of CRMs in the fertiliser and chemicals sectors.
“Report on Critical Raw Materials and the Circular Economy”, European Commission, DG GROW, 16 January 2018, 68 pages, ref. SWD(2018) 36 final