The value is on circularity – Recycling-reusing-reinvesting on critical raw materials

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The value is on circularity - Recycling-reusing-reinvesting on critical raw materials
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Event information

The value is on circularity

Recycling-reusing-reinvesting on critical raw materials.

The webinar is jointly organised by the European Chemical Society (EuChemS) and Maria Spyraki, Member of the European Parliament.

The event will be held online on Thursday 5 November 2020, 13:00 – 15:00 CET

The objectives of the workshop are:

  • Open discussion on critical raw materials for the EU economy involving all stakeholders;
  • Presentation of the scientific basis to foster stronger policies for the protection of endangered elements in the EU;
  • European Commission’s Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials and a foresight study;
  • Critical Raw Materials and Horizon Europe;
  • The need to widen educational efforts at all levels of society to raise awareness on the limits of material resources and the need to implement a circular economy.


  • Welcome and setting the scene by Maria Spyraki, Member of the European Parliament
  • Chemistry welcome by Pilar Goya, EuChemS President
  • Critical elements and the transition to electric mobility, Nicola Armaroli, Italian National Research Council (CNR)
  • Horizon Europe: critical elements and circular economy in the next framework programme, Barend Verachtert, European Commission, DG RTD, Prosperity Directorate
  • The use of alternative fuels as a key strategy to address the European Green Deal, Nicolas Moussiopoulos, Aristotle University Thessaloniki (AUTh)
  • Urban mining and the recycling of E-Waste, Christian Hagelüken, Umicore
  • The EC list of Critical Raw Materials (EU policy), Peter Handley, European Commission, DG GROW
  • Phosphorus, an essential element to feed the world, Evamarie Hey-Hawkins, Leipzig University
  • High-value food ingredients from agri-food by-products and wastes: overview, strategies and prebiotic oligosaccharides as case study, Marco Arlorio, Università del Piemonte Orientale (UPO)
  • Sustainability in renewable solar-to-electric energy conversion: A case for thin-film photovoltaics, Jovana V. Milić, University of Fribourg and EPFL
  • 3R education – is it our job?, Iwona Maciejowska, Jagiellonian University
  • Q&A
  • Conclusion

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Maria Spyraki, MEP

Maria Spyraki is the awarded MEP of the year 2019 for Industry, Research, and Innovation. She is now serving in her second mandate in the European Parliament as member of the Committees on Industry, Research, and Energy (ITRE), on Regional Development (REGI) and the Environment (ENVI). Ms Spyraki is co-chair of the Intergroup on Climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development and rapporteur at the Renovation Wave for ENVI committee.

She has worked for 22 years as a journalist in her home country Greece. Also, she was a member of the Press Office of the European Parliament in Athens from 2003 to 2004, as well as the office of Greek Commissioner to the EU, Mr Stavros Dimas, for the period 2004-2009.

Maria Spyraki has served as the Spokesperson of Nea Demokratia and as an elected member of the Nea Demokratia Executive Board.

Her first degree is in Chemistry and she also has an MSc in Energy Law, Business, Regulation and Policy from International Hellenic University.

Pilar Goya, EuChemS President

Pilar Goya Laza is research professor of the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) at the Instituto de Química Médica of which she was the Director from 2005 to 2011. Vice President of the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry (RSEQ) until 2013, she is currently the Vice President of the Spanish Society of Medicinal Chemistry (SEQT). She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Universidad Complutense Madrid and was a postdoctoral Humboldt fellow in Konstanz, Germany, under Prof W. Pfleiderer´s supervision. From 1991 till 1996 she was Head of International Affairs of CSIC, she was a member of the Core Group of PESC (Physical and Engineering Sciences Committee) of the European Science Foundation, ESF, and Chair of the Chemistry Committee of the Marie Curie Fellowships of the EU.

Her research deals with different aspects of medicinal chemistry and drug design and is currently focused on cannabinoids and PPAR ligands targeting the SNC and obesity. She has published over 150 scientific papers, 12 international patents, and has directed 10 Ph.D. theses. As a former member of the Ethics Committee of the CSIC, she is interested in research integrity issues and good scientific practices and is active in reaching out to the general public has recently published a popular book on “Pain”.

Nicola Armaroli, Italian National Research Council (CNR)

Nicola Armaroli got the Ph.D. in Chemical Sciences in 1994 at the University of Bologna. Since 2007 he has been Research Director at CNR, the Italian National Research Council. He is member of the Italian National Academy of Sciences and Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC). Within EuChemS, he is the former chairman of the Working Party on Chemistry and Energy and has served as EuChemS representative on several occasions such as the overseas Circular Economy Missions of the European Commission. He serves as associate editor of Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences (RSC), member of the Editorial Board of Chemistry-A European Journal (Wiley-VCH) and Polyhedron (Elsevier Science) as well as director of Sapere, the first Italian science periodical, established in 1935.

His scientific activity is concerned with ​photochemistry and photophysics​, in particular luminescent materials and systems for the conversion of light into electricity and fuels. He also studies the transition of the global energy system towards more sustainable models, also in relation to climate change and scarcity of natural resources. He has published over 220 scientific papers and several books on the subject of energy.

Nicola Armaroli has given invited lectures at international conferences, universities and research centers worldwide and has run international projects as CNR principal investigator or coordinator in the frame of several programmes funded by the European Commission. He is also an active consultant and science communicator for the general public on the issues of energy, natural resources, and environment, also through interviews and contributions on mass media.

He was awarded the Grammaticakis-Neumann International Prize in Photochemistry, the Premio Letterario Galileo for science dissemination, the Gold Medal Enzo Tiezzi of the Italian Chemical Society and the Ravani-Pellati Chemistry Prize of the Turin Academy of Sciences.

Barend Verachtert, European Commission, Prosperity Directorate

Barend Verachtert is the Head of the Materials for Tomorrow Unit in the Research and Innovation Directorate-General (DG RTD) of the European Commission. The unit is in charge of the development and implementation of research and innovation policies for advanced materials. He has held various positions within DG RTD in the field of SMEs, the bioeconomy and agri-food.

During its start-up phase, he was the interim Executive Director of the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking, a public-private partnership.

Before joining the European Commission in 1998, he was a technology acquisition manager for Plant Genetic Systems NV, a Belgian plant biotechnology company.

He obtained a PhD in biology from the University of Leuven (1988).

Nicolas Moussiopoulos, Aristotle University Thessaloniki (AUTh)

Nicolas Moussiopoulos is since 1989 a Full Professor at the School of Mechanical Engineering of the Aristotle University Thessaloniki (AUTh) and the Head of this University’s Laboratory of Heat Transfer and Environmental Engineering. He served as the Dean of AUTh’s Faculty of Engineering (2006-2010) and as the Vice President of the International Hellenic University (2010-2016). Since July 2018 he is an elected Scientific Council member of the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation.

Professor Moussiopoulos is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. In 2002 he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. His research work addresses several issues in the broad field of energy and the environment. In the last 30 years he participated in numerous competitive, mostly EU funded research projects with a total budget exceeding 20 million €. He supervised 42 PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers in Greece and five other countries and is the author of more than 900 scientific publications, including more than 220 papers in peer-reviewed journals (approx.. 8400 citations, h-index: 46).

Christian Hagelüken, Umicore

Christian Hagelüken is Director EU Government Affairs at Umicore. From 2003-2011 he was head of Business Development in Umicore’s Precious Metals Refining unit. Before, he held various management positions in the precious metals department of Degussa AG.

Christian represents Umicore in policy initiatives, associations, expert groups and scientific panels, among others the UNEP Resource Panel, the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials, and the Acatech Circular Economy Initiative Germany, where he chairs the working group on EV-batteries. Christian has contributed to numerous scientific journals, books, and conferences with a focus on metals recycling, sustainable metals management and circular economy.

Christian holds university degrees in mining engineering and industrial engineering from RWTH Aachen, Germany, where he also received his Ph.D. in 1991.

Peter Handley, European Commission, DG GROW

Peter Handley is, since September 2017, Head of the Energy-Intensive Industries and Raw Materials Unit in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Growth. He was previously Head of the Resource Efficiency Unit at the Secretariat-General, where he was responsible for coordination of Energy Union, 2030 climate and energy package, low emission mobility strategy and the circular economy.



Evamarie Hey-Hawkins, Leipzig University

Evamarie Hey-Hawkins has been the Chair in Inorganic Chemistry at Leipzig University, Germany, since 1993. She has held positions at universities in the UK, Australia and Germany and visiting professorships in several countries. She has published more than 500 papers and given over 350 lectures worldwide. She has received several awards including the “Distinguished Woman in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering” award by IUPAC (2013), the Nenitescu Medal (2016), two honorary doctoral degrees, the Leipzig Science Award (2019) and is a member of the European Academy of Sciences. Her scientific interests are manifold and comprise inorganic/organometallic chemistry, organophosphorus and carborane chemistry.

Presently, she is the vice president of the German Society on Boron Neutron Capture Therapy and Chair of the Working Group on Phosphorus Chemistry under the umbrella of the German Chemical Society (GDCh).

Marco Arlorio, Università del Piemonte Orientale (UPO)

Prof. Arlorio is to date the Chair of the Food Chemistry Division, EuChemS (Brussels, Belgium); member of the Executive Board of EuChemS (since 2017). In the recent past, he was active as a Member of the Executive Board of the SAFE Consortium (Brussels, Belgium). Starting from January 2020, he serves as Member of the Scientific Advisory Committee at ILSI Europe (Bruxelles).

He is active on teaching at the Academic level, at Università del Piemonte Orientale (IT), Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences – Food Chemistry Unit (Food chemistry; Food biotechnology; Chemistry of functional foods and nutraceutical products).

Principal Investigator in many National and International Projects (recently leading the WP18 “INTELLItrace”, EU Food Integrity Project). Chairperson or member of Scientific Committees of many International Congresses (Series) in the food area (EuroFoodChem; CoCoTea; Pigments in Food; In Vino Analytica Scientia, and others).

Main research interests are focused on food quality and food safety assessment, particularly regarding the development of new analytical methods and new strategic approaches dedicated to the profiling and characterization of foods and food ingredients. Another key interest is related to the development and characterization of functional ingredients for food and food supplements, often starting from by-products/wastes obtained from agri-food chains.

You can read the abstract for the talk High-value food ingredients from agri-food by-products and wastes: overview, strategies and prebiotic oligosaccharides as case study here.

Jovana V. Milić, University of Fribourg and EPFL

Jovana V. Milić is a group leader at the Adolphe Merkle Institute of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. She obtained her PhD in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences at ETH Zurich in 2017 and worked as a scientist in the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces at EPFL until September 2020, when she started her independent academic career. Her research is focused on the development of bioinspired supramolecular materials for renewable energy conversion, with particular interest in smart hybrid nanotechnologies for photovoltaics.

She is actively engaged in international collaborations and has been recognized as a recipient of a number of fellowships and awards, such as the CAS Future Leader and one of the Elements on the IUPAC Periodic Table of Younger Chemists in 2019. In addition to research and collaborative engagements, she is invested in education and supporting young scientists. She presently acts as governance team member at the International Younger Chemists Network (IYCN) and Networks team leader at the European Young Chemists’ Network (EYCN). As member of these associations, she has led and contributed to a number of activities, as well as establishing partnerships with academic, industrial and governmental bodies, dedicated to providing opportunities for development and support of young chemists globally.

Iwona Maciejowska, Jagiellonian University

Iwona Maciejowska is a lecturer and researcher at the Department of Chemical Education at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Iwona Maciejowska teaches students of chemistry and environmental sciences study programmes, among others the course “Sustainable development and civilisation threats” and “Good chemistry – methodological, ethical and social dimensions”. I. Maciejowska is editor, author and co-author of books (15), papers (over 100) and courses for chemistry teachers and academic teaching staff e.g. MOOC on Coursera platform “Teaching in university science laboratories. Developing good practice” . She is also co-editor of Chemistry Teacher International journal, initiator of the European Variety in University Chemistry Education conference.

Iwona Maciejowska was the head of Teaching Excellence Center (2011 – 2014) and the Chair of Division of Chemical Education of EuCheMS (2014-2019).

Some of her publications relevant for this talk:

  • Huber, H. S., Maciejowska, I. (2017) Project Based learning In Higher Education: From Theory to Practice [in:] Innovative Teaching Strategies and Methods Promoting Lifelong Learning in Higher Education, H.E. Vidergor & O. Sela (eds.) , nova science publisher, New York, 115-130
  • I.Maciejowska, Responsible Research and Innovation – How to Develop RRI Awareness Among Young People? European Projects Proposals and Their Results, Annales Universitatis Paedagogicae Cracoviensis. Studia ad Didacticam Biologiae Pertinentia, vol. 215, 2016, 98-111;
  • A Guidebook of Good Practice for Pre-Service Training of Chemistry Teachers (2015). eds. I. Maciejowska & B. Byers, Krakow



Context: The prosperity of European citizens is based on a relentless flow of raw materials which, to an overwhelming extent, are imported from other continents. Modern free trade and the peaceful relationship that the EU has established with countries all over the world, have so far secured the import of these vital resources with no particular problems. However, resource dependent countries are aware that reliable fluxes of raw materials are not granted forever due to several factors such as the concentration of most resources in a relatively small number of countries, the periodic occurrence of trade tensions and, more remarkably, a constant rise in demand for virtually all raw materials in an increasingly affluent and populated world.

Some chemical elements and materials are vital for the modern economy, for the promotion of more sustainable industrial models and also for feeding and curing people. Among many examples we can mention lithium and cobalt as key elements to manufacture batteries and promote electric mobility; indium, tantalum and rare earths for electronic devices and information technologies; helium as an indispensable element in cryogenic applications including medical diagnostics; phosphorus as an essential ingredient for fertilisers which enable modern agriculture. Due to massive use and projected demand, these and other elements are already at risk of physical availability by the end of the present century and possibly earlier. Therefore, the time is now to take strategic decisions for their rational use, disposal and preservation in the frame of a circular economy.

There is no other route to preserving endangered elements than efficient use, extensive recycling, and more sustainable lifestyles promoted by scientifically grounded information at all levels of society. To reach these objectives it is necessary to (i) promote more stringent and effective legislation at the European level on waste collection, treatment and recovery; (ii) support cooperation among industry and academia to make substantial progress in the science and technology of element recovery in end-of-life devices; (iii) expand the information provided to consumers on the content of any commercial item, in order to facilitate society awareness and make disassembling and recycling routine.

Page last updated: 4 November 2020



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