Rare Earth Elements are vital to modern technologies and society, from cell phones to energy-saving lamps, wind turbines and electric car batteries. To meet the current energy transition goals to mitigate climate change, the demand for these elements is skyrocketing. But only a few key players like China control the market and their mining has a disastrous societal and environmental impact. This is why they have been classified by the International Energy Agency as critical minerals. Despite these facts, less than 1% of REE are currently being recycled from end-of-life products, with the rest being dumped in landfills and contributing to the global e-waste pollution problem. This is mainly caused by the fact that REEs are only found in small quantities in electronics, and are often blended together and with other metals. REEcover take advantage of a unique patented technology which allows these elements to be recovered from electronic waste. Their first proof of concept concerns the recycling of Europium and Yttrium from energy saving lamps, with a separation factor 10 times superior to existing technologies. They are currently developing their process to scale up the recycling and extend it to different REEs, such as Neodymium and Dysprosium which are found in magnets, while keeping sustainability and circularity their north star.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL
REEcover are currently looking for expertise from the Swiss recycling ecosystem, and for strongly motivated students with a chemical engineering degree for a master's thesis internship. If you're interested, please get in touch here.