Secondary raw materials have no legal definition on the European Union Community level. A pragmatic definition can be derived from the legislation on the extractive industry (published in the Extractive Waste Directive (2006/21/EC)), forestry and certain agriculture subsectors which produce the primary raw materials, and the legal definitions of waste and waste management hierarchy regulated by the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC). In this regard, secondary raw materials are those wastes and non-waste substances, materials, and products which can be used as primary raw materials by
- simple use or re-use, or
- via recovery, recycling, reclamation of waste,
as shown below. The figure indicates the functional links of secondary raw materials and legal waste management activities. According to the European Union legislation, secondary raw materials do not necessarily originate from waste (“any substance or object which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard”) in the strict legal sense (see first arrow on left).
The enhanced use of secondary raw materials is aiming at the replacement of the primary raw materials which leads to the closure of the loop of the raw materials value chain, in this way to the realization of the circular economy strategy. The replacement of primary raw materials shall not be switched with the substitution of critical raw materials in certain applications and products.
The further classification of secondary raw materials can be done on basis of which economic sector they originate from, on the legal classification of industrial products, or the European Waste Catalogue categories.
RMIS’ scope is to cover secondary raw materials generation, use, applications, trade, end-of-waste, and all the rest and embedded aspects of their role along the value chain.