Clean technologies under threat from low metals reuse
1 June 2011, source edie newsroom
Metals used for magnets inside wind turbines are become scarcer
Less than one-third of some crucial 60 metals studied by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have an end-of-life recycling rate above 50% and 34 of them have a recycling rate of below 1%.
This effectively threatens the cost of producing products such batteries for hybrid vehicles or magnets for wind turbines as raw materials become more scarce.
The Recycling rates of metals: a status report states that in spite of significant efforts in a number of countries and regions, many metal recycling rates are discouragingly low, and a 'recycling society' appears no more than a distant hope.
"The weak performance is especially frustrating because, unlike some other resources, metals are inherently recyclable," the study points out.
Recycling metals is estimated to be up to 10 times more energy efficient than smelting them from virgin ores. Meanwhile extraction alone currently accounts for 7% of the world's energy consumption.
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