van Nielen, Sander; Kleijn, René; Sprecher, Benjamin; Miranda Xicotencatl, Brenda
The growing demand for minor metals creates both pressure on the supply chain of these metals and challenges in waste management. Consequently, there is a wide interest in recycling opportunities. To identify these opportunities, it is key to understand bottlenecks and drivers in recycling value chains. Hence, we analyzed existing recyclability frameworks and related recycling literature, revealing 113 factors that determine the success of recycling minor metals. These factors were linked to the stages of the recycling value chain, i.e. manufacturing, use phase, waste collection, preprocessing, metallurgical recovery and secondary marketing. Based on the insights from the literature analysis, we propose a novel recyclability assessment framework. The framework provides insights into the recyclability of waste flows from a life cycle management perspective. It addresses aspects that are relevant to stakeholders in all value chain stages, thereby providing a theoretical basis for evaluating and comparing recycling chains. The framework is suitable for assessing the recyclability of minor metals during the recycling technology development process, as demonstrated in three case studies. As such, it can guide policy makers and technology developers that aim to increase the circularity of material loops.