Material system analysis: Functional and nonfunctional cobalt in the EU, 2012–2016

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


A comprehensive data inventory of the current materials cycle in industry and society is crucial for an informed discussion and for decision-making on the supply of raw materials. Particularly, it is key to understand how these materials are functionally and nonfunctionally recycled, and enable the assessment of recycling indicators needed for the monitoring of circular economy. In this context, a material system analysis (MSA) of cobalt for the European Union (EU) from 2012 to 2016 is presented and discussed. Detailed results are provided for the year 2016, and the evolution of the flows over time is presented from 2012 to 2016. In addition, six indicators are calculated to characterize the cobalt cycle. In 2016, the EU28 embedded around 24,000 metric tons (t) of cobalt in manufactured products, and 33,700 t were put into use. The main losses of the system are due to nonselective collection of postconsumer waste (disposed), and nonfunctional recycling of old scrap. From the years analyzed, it was possible to detect a shift in the imports; the import of primary material decreased more than 99% between 2012 and 2016, and the import of semiprocessed and processed materials increased around 31% in the same period. This indicates that after 2012, the EU became more dependent on imports in downstream stages of the supply chain. One way to decrease this dependency is to establish higher collection targets, and to establish recycling targets based on the recovery of single materials, in order to decrease the amount dissipated through nonfunctional recycling.

ZeitschriftJournal of Industrial Ecology
Seiten (von - bis)1277-1293
Anzahl der Seiten17
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 08.2022
Extern publiziertJa

Bibliographische Notiz

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Industrial Ecology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of the International Society for Industrial Ecology.