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Metals


E-Book: International Resource Panel Work on Global Metal Flows (2013)

E-Book – Introduction

Instructions

Report 1 - Metal Stocks in Society – Scientific Synthesis (UNEP, 2010) 

Report 2a - Recycling Rates of Metals – A Status Report (UNEP, 2011d) 

Report 2b - Metal Recycling – Opportunities, Limits, Infrastructure (UNEP, 2013a)

Report 3 - Environmental Risks and Challenges of Anthropogenic Metals Flows and Cycles (UNEP, 2013b)

 

All Files Should Be Downloaded And Saved In The Same Folder

The International Resource Panel’s Working Group on Global Metal Flows has since its establishment published four* out of a planned series of six reports. These four reports have looked at various aspects of sustainable metals management, including metal stocks in society, metal recycling rates and opportunities for its increase, and the various environmental challenges associated with metals extraction and use. The knowledge contained in the four reports provides a comprehensive overview of a variety of policy-relevant findings and opportunities for policy-makers to take into consideration towards the development of policies and regulations aimed at promoting sustainable metals management from a life cycle perspective.

The E-Book: International Resource Panel Work on Global Metal Flows includes all four of the IRP’s publications to date on metals in a WinZip format. The introduction summarizes the knowledge contained in these reports while making use of cross-references to the reports wherever possible, in order to allow the reader to gain a deeper understanding of the topic at hand. Much more extensive information and citations to the relevant literature are available within the reports themselves.

*1.- Metal Stocks in Society – Scientific Synthesis, 2.- Recycling Rates of Metals – A Status Report, 3.- Metal Recycling – Opportunities, Limits, Infrastructure and 4.- Environmental Risks and Challenges of Anthropogenic Metals Flows and Cycles

Metal Recycling: Opportunities, Limits, Infrastructure (2013)

 

Full report ENGLISH (High-res) | ENGLISH (Low-res)

 

Summary Report ENGLISH | JAPANESE

 

Factsheet CHINESE | ENGLISH | FRENCH | SPANISH

 

Due 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.

Environmental Risks and Challenges of Anthropogenic Metals Flows and Cycles (2013)


 Full report ENGLISH

 

Summary Report  ENGLISH | JAPANESE

 

Factsheet  CHINESE | ENGLISH | FRENCH | SPANISH

 

 

This report, compiled by a group of international experts, focuses on the impact of metals on the environment as well as on their life cycle energy use. Currently, primary metals production is responsible for 7 – 8 % of the total global energy use as well as for severe local environmental impacts. The report suggests to apply best available techniques and to increase recycling of metals, which not only requires significantly less energy per kg metal produced than primary production but also helps decreasing the overall local impacts of mining. However, even if recycling rates are increased, rising global demand for many metals will remain a huge environmental challenge in the next decades worldwide.

Main issues of concern for policy-makers presented in this report:

·    presently, the demand for metals is rising rapidly and this trend is expected to continue for the next decades

·    a shift towards a renewable energy system implies the material, and especially metal, intensity of energy production will increase even faster

·    in future, the energy intensity of the production of metals may increase as a result of mining lesser grade ores. For some metals, a trend of decreasing ore grades is visible, and for more it may become visible over the next decades

Recycling Rates of Metals: A Status Report (2011)

 

Full report ENGLISH

 

Summary Report ENGLISH | JAPANESE

 

Factsheet ENGLISH | JAPANESE

 

Smarter product designs, support for developing country waste management schemes, and encouraging developed country households not to ‘squirrel away’ old electronic goods in drawers and closets could help boost recycling of metals world-wide.

According to this report, recycling rates of metals are in many cases far lower than their potential for reuse. Less than one-third of some 60 metals studied have an end-of-life recycling rate above 50 per cent and 34 elements are below 1 per cent recycling, yet many of them are crucial to clean technologies such as batteries for hybrid cars to the magnets in wind turbines, says the study.

“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,” states the Recycling Rates of Metals: A Status Report, compiled by UNEP’s International Resource Panel.

Metal Stocks in Society: A Scientific Synthesis (2010)

 

Full report ENGLISH | JAPANESE

 

Factsheet ENGLISH

 

A key question that relates to the very broad and intensive use of metals is whether society needs to be concerned about long-term supplies of any or many of them.  This is a many-faceted question that cannot be answered quickly or unequivocally.

To address it, the International Resource Panel’s Working Group on Global Metal Flows envisions a series of six reports, of which this is the first one addressing metal stocks in society.  The continued increase in the use of metals over the twentieth century has led to a substantial shift from geological resource base to metal stocks in society. This report reviews the relevant literature on this topic.  From a compilation of 54 studies, it is clear that a reasonably detailed picture of in-use stocks and in-use lifetimes exists for only five metals: aluminum, copper, iron, lead, and zinc. Limited data suggest that per capita in-use stocks in more developed countries typically exceed those in less-developed countries by factors of five to ten.  Reliable data on metals stocks in society and their lifetimes are essential for building a global recycling infrastructure in the future.

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  • Metal Stocks in Society: Scientific Synthesis
     

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  • Recycling Rates of Metals: A Status Report
     

    In theory, metals can be used over and over again, minimizing the need to mine and process virgin materials and thus saving substantial amounts of energy and water while minimizing environmental ...


  • Environmental Risks and Challenges of Anthropogenic Metals Flows and Cycles

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  • Metal Recycling: Opportunities, Limits, Infrastructure
     

    A key question that relates to the very broad and intensive use of metals is whether society needs to be concerned about long-term supplies of any or many of them. This is a many-faceted question ...