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Circular economy

ITM has received a task from the president to lead a four year initiative on circular economy. A group has been formed at ITH led by Amir Rashid (IIP). Initially, meetings have been held with participants from the departments within ITM: Sofia Ritzen (MMK), Semida Silviera (EGI), Cali Nuur (INDEK) and me. The initial aim is to inform each other on activities that are held at different departments and to identify interesting areas of future research as well as possibilities to develop inter disciplinary courses. The activities of this group will be presented by Amir at an ITM faculty club meeting on October 24 in order to both inform interested faculty members as well as to receive feedback from them. In the next step, interested researchers from other schools will be contacted (ABE, SCI, CHE and maybe others). Our aim is to work together during these four years to form a plat form for a future collaboration regarding circular economy at a KTH level.

Personally I have also been involved in some circular economy related activities. Two weeks ago I attended a workshop on circular economy in Helsinki focusing on metals. The workshop was led by Maria Wetterstrand who has a long experience working with environmental issues related to production issues. There were also people present from Finland that work on the political side. Many technical talks on recycling of steel, copper, gold silver etc., including my own presentation focusing on steel recycling, were held. Also, the workshop illustrates that several companies have invested in recycling facilities to handle for example shredded steel scrap and electronic scrap.  It was also of interest to hear that some speakers including politicians claimed that we should have production of metals and mining in Sweden in Finland since we then can make sure that we take an environmental responsibility after, for example, a mine is closed down.

Finally, I must say that it is hard to believe that we have already reached the end of period 1! I was a teacher in production of metals and fiber for the third year BSc students in the materials design program together with professor Gunnar Henriksson from the school of chemistry (CHE). This year the student visited Boliden in Skellefteå to study the production of copper at Boliden and to get informed of typical jobs that they can obtain after they have completed their education at KTH. Despite that the student had to go by bus (we could not afford flying) they were satisfied with the chance to the production facility. Overall, Boliden is a company that practices “circular economy”. Your used computers and mobile phones are melted to produce new metals. Specifically, the annual production of three important metals based on 120 000 tonnes of recycled scrap is the following:

Gold 2000 kg
Silver 32 000 kg
Copper 15 500 tonnes

So, if you wish to play a role in the circular economy you could start by recycling your electronic scrap (phones, computers, etc.) so that the valuable metals can be extracted and used to produce new products!

Pär Jönsson, Vice Dean