Reassessing tin circularity and criticality

Jessie E. Bradley*, Willem L. Auping, René Kleijn, Jan H. Kwakkel, Benjamin Sprecher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
64 Downloads (Pure)


Tin is an important metal for society with a high risk of supply disruptions. It is, therefore, classified as a critical material in many parts of the world. An exception is the European Union, for which tin was classified as a non-critical material in 2023. However, there are many discrepancies in the literature regarding the definitions and values of the indicators used to determine tin criticality in general, and recycling indicators in particular. Values for end-of-life recycling rate (EoL RR) range between 20% and 75%, and values for end-of-life recycling input rate (EoL RIR) range between 11% and 32%. In this paper, we critically assess the circularity and criticality indicator values for tin and calculate new values using material flow analysis. The new values for tin recycling indicators are lower than those used in most previous research, with a global EoL RR of 16% and an EoL RIR of 11% in 2017. Based on the updated recycling values, combined with a highly concentrated supply, high import reliance, and difficult substitution, we argue that the European Union should classify tin as a critical material. This reclassification can lead to more policy attention for tin, which can help reduce the impact of future supply disruptions and increase the resilience of the European and global tin supply chains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-246
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Industrial Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • circular economy
  • critical materials
  • European union
  • industrial ecology
  • material flow analysis
  • recycling


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