Low recycling and reuse rates for rare metals could threaten the future production of clean technology according to a new report based on studies carried out by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Rare metals are a valuable resource which the western world relies on heavily. Many familiar household items include rare metals in them including stereos, computers and the iphone. They are also frequently found in medical technologies and farm machinery. But more importantly the vast majority of clean technologies such as hybrid vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines rely on the use of these materials because of their unique properties.
Of the 60 metals studied by the UNEP less than a third have an end-of-life recycling rate above 50%, equally worryingly 34 of the metals had a recycling rate below 1%. Particularly disappointing when it is considered that recycling metals can be up to 10 times more efficient than smelting them from virgin ores.
As the scarcity of these materials rises then so will the cost of manufacturing ‘clean technologies’ which would ultimately threaten production. The report stated that despite significant efforts in some countries that recycling rates for metals was discouragingly low. The study also pointed out: “The weak performance is especially frustrating because, unlike some other resources, metals are inherently recyclable”
Recipro sourced this article from edie.net