Metals recycling need to be reconsidered!
International Resource Panel issued recently a report calling to rethink
practices of metals recycling. In the past metals recycling was relatively
straightforward and concentrated on specific materials as most products were
relatively simple; this form of recycling follows the so-called ‘Material &
Metal Centric’ approach. Today the complexity of metals recycling has increased
alongside with the continuous creation of innovative technological products
that mixes almost any imaginable metal or other material. Recycling these
products is becoming more and more difficult as trying to recover one material
would often destroy or scatter another, and it is clear that a ‘Product Centric’
approach is needed.
crucial role in the global economy as input of raw materials for
infrastructures, the report underlines that global demand for metals is
expected to remain strong or even increasing due to the rapid industrialization
of developing countries and the diffused use of metals in advance technologies.
Metals’ extraction activities cause severe local environmental disturbances and
absorb nearly eight percent of the global energy supply. However, metals can be
recycled almost indefinitely, thus presenting a valuable opportunity to reduce
environmental degradation, energy and water use and contribute to the
transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient green economy.
highlights the importance of exploring the specific components of a product and
devising ways to separate and recover metals. Product designers need to ensure
that the different materials in products can still be recovered easily when they
reach the end of their life. Still far too much valuable metal is lost because
of the imperfect collection of end-of-life products, improper practices, or
structural deficiencies within the recycling chain, which hinder achieving our
goals of high resource efficiency and resource security, and of better
recycling rates. The
report issued a series of recommendations to attain a workable sustainable
metals management system.
R4R project targets
resource efficiency by providing best practices about waste collection and
recycling performance across EU regions.
The UNEP and the International Resource Panel report on metal recycling