Our partners from the seventh workstream on “Sustainability, Social, Health, Safety & Economic assessment” are working on assessing the sustainability of the whole BIORECOVER process, from both the environmental and economic perspectives as well as from the safety perspective.
This workstream aims to bring transversal aspects of the BIORECOVER concept, as the sustainability, to be considered together with the technical aspects of the metal recovery, thus using sustainability as a decision support tool throughout the project.
For this purpose, different tasks are being undertaken. The first one deals with the potential valorisation of waste streams from BIORECOVER processes. In three additional tasks, we address the environmental, economic and social impacts of BIORECOVER processes, based in Life Cycle Assessment methodology (LCA-LCC). These tasks aim to identify those hotspots with greater impact (economically and environmentally) on the different processes involved in the extraction of CRM.
Risk management as well as health and safety analyses are also carried out. The aim is to develop tools to minimise the risks associated with BIORECOVER’s operations. In addition, partners are trying to understand the socio-economic impact and public perception of BIORECOVER.
Research carried out in BIORECOVER takes place at lab-scale (small scale studies), that focus on demonstrating the technical feasibility of the processes and determine optimal conditions. Due to this scale, some of the results from the environmental or economic assessments are distorted due to aspects, such as energy consumption or reagent costs, which differs from those expected in real scale processes. However, these aspects have been considered when analysing the results obtained. Economic and environmental hotspots have been identified and comparative conclusions can be obtained, as well as measures to improve these hotspots at future stages.
Both LCA and LCC allows us to identify the critical stages of a process (hotspots), and also the inputs (raw matters, energy transportation) that cause that great impact. Thus, based on these findings it is possible to establish corrective measures (alternative raw matters, energy sources) that reduce its impact.
At the same time, other aspects such as the perception of society and how the life cycle of BIORECOVER has an impact on social aspects, are known and can be improved. In addition to the health and safety risks associated with the project.
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