Raw materials have been an essential part of human survival and technological development through the ages. They are found anywhere in varying quantities in the form of metals or minerals, being able to significantly determine the prosperity level and progress expectations, especially in modern times where the requirements for innovative technological products are increasing rapidly.
In the frame of the European Union’s policy for re-industrialization and self-sufficiency, a debate on the exploitation of its resources has been restarted to establish Europe as a producing continent like in the past. In this effort, the European Union has adopted the circular economy model instead of the linear production model.
The Raw Materials production sector is the primary link of the circular economy’s chain, having similar importance to the nutritional products sector. However, the preservation of natural mineral resources, toward abundance for the following generations, requires a variety of actions, which includes waste reduction, efficiency improvement in production facilities by utilizing a wide range of products from the same source, and recycling, including the recovery and valorization of raw materials from processing wastes.
In Greece, the Raw Materials sector has significant importance for the national economy, which still follows the linear economy model. The national priorities that have been established, are based on the circular economy model towards sustainable development and a raw materials strategy oriented to the critical raw materials exploitation. In this context, a prerequisite for establishing sustainability as well as national and international competitiveness is the rapid transformation of the companies operating in the raw materials production chain. Therefore, it is necessary to tackle several challenges and encourage actions that aim at:
- Effectiveness enhancement of raw materials processes and reduction of by-products and waste quantities with simultaneous improvement of their environmental characteristics.
- Reuse of by-products and wastes in the same production facilities or as raw materials feeds in alternative industrial processes in the frame of collaboration synergies.
- Treatment of solid and liquid by-products/wastes, by applying new innovative methods or a combination of the existing ones for high-value constituents’ recovery.
- Implementation of innovative treatment, passivation, and stabilization technologies for solid and liquid by-products/wastes for their environmental safety management.
GRawMat provides a platform for direct collaboration between companies and participating bodies with a direct or indirect interest in the raw materials value chain. Taking advantage of their experience, expertise, and complementarity, GRawMat supports the development of novel products and production processes, contributing to their technical, economic, and environmental upgrade towards a sustainable circular economy model.
Clusters’ partnership favors competitiveness both at the national and international level while GRawMat operates as a center of knowledge and innovation transfer between all members of the raw materials supply chain. At the same time, GRawMat acts as a facilitator for the establishment of new rules and a consulting advisor for raw materials management topics to state organizations.
GRawMats’ activities enhance social impact by contributing to the creation of “zero waste societies” and the implementation of the Strategic Goals for Sustainable Development as established by the United Nations and dictated by the European Union. In addition, the cluster will support the immediate and long-term creation of new job positions and training.
In conclusion, GRawMat involves universities, research institutions, social and professional chambers, as well as public administration organizations, reinforce the links of the Society-Production-Research triangle in the raw materials agenda.
Dr. Evangelos Tzamos