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Screening of environmental risks in metals supply chains, using the example of battery metals

As a leading industrial country, Germany has a great need for metallic raw materials, which will even increase over the next years with the intended energy and mobility transition.

To meet the demand for metallic raw materials, the industry in Germany is heavily dependent on imports from abroad. To reduce this dependency on imports, Germany is working towards a circular economy in which resource efficiency and the recycling of metals play a prominent role. However, a circular economy will only be able to cover a portion of the necessary raw material requirements. Therefore, the import of primary raw materials will continue to be of decisive importance in the future.

The sourcing of the raw materials, however, must be responsible in order to avoid human rights violations and environmental impacts in the metals supply chains.

Human right violations can nowadays be managed quite well in metals supply chains through laws and guidelines. But so far there are no adequate instruments to address environmental risks in metals supply chains. Despite this lack of instruments, the EU is considering to enact a supply chain regulation which could make manufacturers liable for environmental impacts in countries where the metals are produced.

To facilitate the assessment of environmental risks in metals supply chains, a hands-on screening tool to recognize and red flag environmental risks in such supply chains using the example of battery metals is presented.


Klaus Steinmueller
Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, Germany
GeoKarlsruhe 2021