Germany’s resource security drive highlights UK shortcomings
Germany's approach to securing rare earth metals by maximising their extraction from disparate waste streams should sound alarm bells for the UK's own resource security strategy, a leading policy advisor has warned.
Susanne Baker, senior climate & environment policy adviser at EEF the manufacturer’s organisation, said that governments of high-tech manufacturing nations are increasingly looking for sustainable ways to supply their industrial bases with critical materials.
Baker recently visited Germany on a fact-finding mission and discovered an intricate resource efficiency network dedicated to harvesting metals such as cerium, gallium, germanium from various waste streams such as those in scrapyards and old mines in a cost-effective way.
The network, comprised of various agencies, centres and institutes, forms part of the country’s response to material security. It is researching new ways to use global deposits better and access deposits more sustainably.
“There is certainly nothing comparable in the UK,” Baker said. “We’re not suggesting that the UK replicates this complicated ecosystem … but it does help to underline that our calls for a strengthening of the Government’s Resource Security Action Plan is not only desirable, but potentially critical to the future health of manufacturing in the UK.”
Last year, the EEF called for the Government to develop a more ambitious waste strategy if it is to secure future supply of crucial materials to British manufacturing operations.