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Søppelkasser for avfallssortering
Foto: Colourbox

Today, a large quantity of valuable materials and resources are lost in the waste stream due to lack of efficient waste management system. NILU works with the development of systematic approaches to characterize the flows of materials and chemicals from production and consumption to the waste streams.

We help identifying

  • pathways to support sustainable circularity models, including product design,
  • determining origin of raw materials (e.g. solvents) and their sustainability;
  • prevention and control of contamination throughout the supply chain;
  • identification of shortcomings, obstacles and solutions in the current waste management schemes.

We also provide relevant laboratory services to identify the presence of hazardous chemicals and contaminants and advocate for increased transparency in the supply chain and the traceability of materials and products.

NILU’s  services for the transition to a circular economy

  • Support to development of sustainable circularity models
  • Assessment of health, environmental and climate change risks related to waste management
  • Material flow analysis (MFA) combined with life cycle assessment (LCA) to better understand the fate of materials and chemicals and their environmental impacts
  • Cost and benefit analysis under various waste management scenarios
  • Environmental forensics and reconstruction of environmental histories

Project examples:


In the PLASTCYC project (Plastic Cycle; Optimizing resource efficiency, minimizing recycling of hazardous chemicals), we assess the flow of chemicals that are used as additives in plastic products. Our aim is to understand the fate of these chemicals from the waste stream and into new recycled products, especially those compounds that are considered hazardous for humans and environment. A combination of material flow analysis (MFA) and life cycle assessment (LCA) allows us to understand the flow of hazardous chemicals within plastics through the lifecycle of plastic products. It also provides us with the ability to provide recommendations to optimize resource efficiency while minimizing recycling of hazardous chemicals under a Circular Economy. The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council.


The REE-PGM project (Recovery of Rare Earth Elements (REEs) and Platinum Group Metals (PGM) within waste streams) tracks emissions from e-waste processing within urban environment to assess offsite consequences and risks. NILU helps identify pathways and targeted interventions  that can be made to reduce the impact of e-waste and maximise recovery of Rare Earth Elements (REEs) and Platinum Group Metals (PGM) within waste streams.