IRTC-Business continues and implements the work of IRTC, an international expert group on raw materials criticality. The project conducts Round Tables and publish their outcomes, with the goal to apply the concepts to company use. It supports industry in assessing its exposure to criticality issues and support decisions-making, as well as identifying mitigation measures. A webbased tool developed by the project will support these actions. The project is advised by an industry focus group representing international expertise from relevant business sectors.

Background of the project

Resource availability and its implications for various societal, economic, and ecologic issues is a crucial aspect of today’s economy. However, the relevance of material criticality for the future of energy and technology – and thus for our society – is still obscured by the diversity and, frequently, the immaturity of the evolving methodologies. The EIT Raw Materials project “International Round Table on Materials Criticality”, IRTC (, has therefore been fostering an exchange of knowledge on materials criticality from different regional and methodological perspectives. The project has been joining existing platforms that offer the opportunity for information exchange related to the various aspects of materials criticality; e.g. on Life Cycle Assessment, Industrial Ecology, and Sustainable Development.

Within the IRTC project, four Round Tables were organized in Canada, Japan, China and US with the themes “How methodology determines what is critical”, “Criticality and the circular economy”, “How industry manages criticality”, and “Secondary sourcing of critical raw materials”. These Round Tables were explorative by nature and focused on the identification of key differences among perspectives, methodologies, stakeholders, and practices. The outcomes of the Round Tables are presented in the form of scientific publications co-authored by the consortium members.

IRTC-Business is using the outcomes and knowledge generated in the IRTC project to leverage the 2 discussion onto another level. Where IRTC has been looking back on existing practices related to resource criticality, IRTC-Business will integrate the lessons learned into concrete recommendations for the application of criticality assessments by companies. These recommendations will encompass the development and application of a stakeholder-specific criticality methodology and the identification of mitigation measures.

All members of the IRTC Consortium, with their established expertise in the field and a broad geographical coverage, will continue to contribute in the IRTC-Business project, supported by additional partners forming the industry focus group. The Consortium will collaborate under the same administrative structure for coordination and publication as the IRTC project, but will aim at making the results available for and accessible to industry, by including industry in the discussion and developing a web-based decision-making tool as a final outcome of the project.

Project objectives and scope

The “International Round Table on Materials Criticality in Business Practice” will advise industry in assessing its exposure to criticality issues. The objectives of IRTC Business are:

  • to assess awareness and existing response mechanisms with regard to materials criticality in different industries,
  • to identify existing needs and tools in industry to evaluate its individual risks and mitigation options,
  • to establish best practices concerning how to assess criticality from specific business stakeholder perspectives,
  • to support decision-making of companies regarding their exposure to materials criticality, and
  • to provide guidance in the identification of suitable mitigation measures based on a criticality assessment’s outcome.

To achieve those objectives, the following activities are planned:

  • continuation of the Round Table format developed in the first phase at relevant international conferences with a focus on industry participation and involvement,
  • continuation of the publishing activities of the Consortium on current topics regarding criticality, especially in view of application in industry,
  • establishment of an industry focus group representing companies of different nations, sizes, and relevant sectors,
  • development of a decision tree model directed to developing a suitable system to assess individual exposure to criticality and indicators that serve as early-warning systems for companies (including a publication on “Practical guidance and good practices in resource criticality assessments”),
  • development of a web tool that can be used by companies to inform their materials-related decisions,
  • further research on the relationships between indicators and materials-related mitigation measures, and integration of the results in the decision model and tool.

The IRTC project is coordinated by ESM Foundation, Switzerland. The proposal was submitted within the 2017 Call for Internationalization Projects at EIT Raw Materials and accepted for funding in 2018, 2019 and 2020.