Creating a truly circular economy

We all know it’s important to recycle to reduce waste, prevent pollution and protect our planet’s precious, finite resources.

But, if we are to sustain a growing population with modern lifestyles, we must go a lot further in building a truly circular economy.

That means a system where everything is designed, produced and made for use and reuse, over and over again.

This is particularly important for the energy and transport transitions, where the products we make, like catalytic converters, battery materials and fuel cells, rely on scarce metals, such as palladium, platinum and cobalt. Not only does an ounce of recycled platinum group metal (pgm) contain around 50 times less embedded carbon than newly mined pgm, but the more we can recycle and reuse, the less we need to mine in the first place, which itself has associated social and environmental impacts.

The world’s first circular economy

JM helped create one of the world’s first circular economies in platinum group metals, and today we’re the world’s largest recycler of pgms. Our pgm extraction and separation processes are so advanced that we can recycle platinum, for example, to a minimum purity of 99.95%. And all our metal-containing catalysts are designed to accelerate chemical reactions using the minimum amount of metals.

Applying our expertise to develop new recycling solutions

To create a truly circular economy, however, we need to think about how we recycle new products before we’ve even made them. That’s why we’re working hard to take what we already know about pgm recycling and apply it to our battery, fuel cell and green hydrogen technologies. For example, in April 2021 we announced that we’re partnering with Stena Recycling Group on technologies to recycle and reuse the scarce metals from used electric vehicle batteries in new battery materials.

Case study

Creating a sustainable battery supply chain

Demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is expected to grow rapidly in the next decade. That means demand for the materials that go into EV batteries will rise too. For example, the quantity of lithium-ion batteries used in vehicles and power storage is expected to increase nearly ten-fold in the next decade.

To help conserve these scarce resources, the world needs to find more sustainable ways to make, use and recycle battery materials.

That’s why we’re taking several important steps to help create a more sustainable battery supply chain. For example, we’re working with Stena Recycling Group, a leading recycler of industrial waste and end of life products, to develop an efficient European value chain for recycling lithium-ion batteries and cell manufacturing materials.

We’re also developing additional steps to produce fully refined materials that are suitable for the lithium-ion battery manufacturing process to help increase the recycled content of new batteries. And we continue to work with RCS Global to improve visibility in our own supply chain so that we can ethically secure the materials our business needs.

Meanwhile, we’re finding ways to make our operations more sustainable too. For example, for our new battery materials plant in Finland we are developing a unique system to capture and treat effluent waste. The plant will also use 100% renewable energy from the day it begins production.

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Annual Report 2021

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