Friday, May 3, 2013

UNEP Report Released: Metal Recycling: Opportunities, Limits, Infrastructure

Recently, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), released a new report produced by the International Resources Panel titled, Metal Recycling: Opportunities, Limits, Infrastructure (2013). The 320-page report available here, discusses the following:
[d]ue to complex functionality, modern products contain complex mixes of almost any imaginable metal, material and compound. This growing complexity of modern products makes it difficult to extract and reuse valuable metals from waste products due to the laws of physics and related economics. For example, a mobile phone can contain more than 40 elements, including base metals such as copper and tin and precious and platinum-group metals such as silver, gold and palladium.

In order to boost historically low recycling rates, a global move from a Material-Centric to a Product-Centric approach, in which recycling targets specific components of a product and their complexity at its End of Life (EoL) and devises ways to separate and recover them, is essential. Optimizing the recycling of EoL products can avoid losses in efficiency throughout the chain of recycling. The global mainstreaming of such a Product-Centric view will be a remarkable step towards efficient recycling systems, resource efficiency and a Green Economy

Product-Centric recycling is discussed in this report by acknowledged experts. This approach is considered to be an essential enabler of resource efficiency by increasing recycling rates. This report provides a techno-economic, product design and physics basis to address the challenges of recycling increasingly complex products in the 21st century.

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