As the final product of the first phase of the IRTC project, a paper with the title A review of methods and data to determine raw material criticality has now been published. As the result of a joint effort of all IRTC partners, it reflects the discussions held at the IRTC meetings, the cooperation of international experts in various scientific disciplines and industry leaders, and the global scope of the issue at hand.
Various studies about criticality assessment methods have led to inconclusive outcomes and would benefit from identifying best practices. The paper, in line with the goal of the IRTC project, aims to prepare the field for such guidance in reviewing and assessing existing criticality assessment methods. The paper suggests that differences in goal and scope of a study result in different choices regarding indicator selection, the required level of aggregation, the subsequent choice of aggregation method, and the need for a threshold value. However, often the goals and the methods applied in a criticality assessment don’t correspond well, suggesting a lack of understanding of cause-and-effect mechanisms of indicators and outcomes. Data availability is a key factor that limits the evaluation of criticality. Furthermore, data quality, including both data uncertainty and data representativeness, is rarely addressed in the interpretation and communication of results. Clear guidance in the formulation of goals and scopes of criticality studies, the selection of adequate indicators and aggregation methods, and the interpretation of the outcomes are important initial steps in improving the quality of criticality assessments.
On this methodological background, the project now moves on to finding concrete circular economy measures which mitigate criticality in IRTC Business, with the aim of publishing the findings in another joint scientific paper.