Published: March 31, 2021

Alva, Tapojärvi and Elker have created a new innovation based on Finnish business cooperation, which enables the efficient reuse of every valuable material already in use.

The EU has identified 30 raw materials used by industry as critical. If their use continues at the same level or increases further, the raw materials will run out. The availability of critical raw materials must be improved in order to safeguard Europe’s security of supply. 

Alva, Tapojärvi and Elker, which specialise in circular economy, joined forces to solve the problem.  

Finnish business cooperation led to a new innovation that enables the efficient reuse of every valuable material already in use. 

”It is possible to recover more critical materials from electrical and electronic waste. The solution we have developed will help all electronics manufacturers and electrical and electronic waste recovery companies,” says Sakari Hietala, Managing Director of Elker. 

Mining without quarrying 

The aim was to develop an urban mining export product for the global market. Urban mining enables mining without quarrying – its yields are 100 times higher than those of traditional mining.  

”The new innovation is based on a hydrometallurgical method that is currently being tested at a demo facility built for the University of Jyväskylä. After the experiment, we will move on to commercialise the solution,” continues Juha Koskinen, Development Manager of Tapojärvi.  

A new kind of electrical and electronic waste recovery facility will remove harmful chemicals and recover critical materials cleanly and efficiently. Gold and copper, for example, are directly suitable for use as industry raw materials.  

Previous recycling technologies have been based, on melting, for example, in which rare earth metals are lost among other metals and slag. 

Small carbon footprint of the multi-million euro business 

The innovation will improve the recycling of materials and help combat climate change. The electrical and electronic waste recovery plant has a low energy consumption and a small carbon footprint.  

The processing capacity of the commercial recovery plant will be one fifth of all PCB waste in Europe. 

”The plant’s potential annual turnover will be EUR 700 million,” says Risto Ryymin, Development Manager at Alva. 

The need for critical substances is constantly increasing as society electrifies. The recovery of rare earth metals will improve European security of supply, and industrial activity may continue even if China restricted the export of critical raw materials.  

A Finnish urban mine can be reproduced and located anywhere in the world. 


  • Transport, infrastructure and smart technology, for example, depend on critical materials. 
  • Hydrometallurgy is a metal manufacturing technique based on extraction and solution enrichment and purification. 
  • The project is funded by Alva, Tapojärvi, Elker and Business Finland.