Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Industry and Business News  

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Low metal recycling threatens green economy: UN report

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) May 26, 2011
Too much metal is being thrown away when it could be recycled, wasting an opportunity to save energy and risking shortages in materials used for new green technologies, a UN report warned Thursday.

In a landmark study, the first to outline the extent to which metals are collected, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) found that less than one third of about 60 metals studied are recycled to any significant degree.

This is frustrating because recycling reduces the need for energy-intensive mining -- the report says extraction alone currently accounts for seven percent of the world's energy consumption.

"In theory, metals can be used over and over again, minimising the need to mine and process virgin materials and thus saving substantial amounts of energy and water while minimising environmental degradation," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP executive director.

"Raising levels of recycling worldwide can therefore contribute to a transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient green economy while assisting to generate 'green jobs'."

Lead is the most recycled metal, according to the report compiled by UNEP's International Resources Panel, with nearly 80 percent of products containing lead -- mainly batteries -- used again.

More than half of the iron and other main components of steel and stainless steel are also recycled, as are platinum, gold, silver and most other precious metals, although the latter's re-use varies depending on the application.

But the report found virtually no recycling of metals such as Indium, which is used in semi-conductors and LEDs; tellurium and selenium, which are used in solar panels; and neodymium and dysprosium, used in wind turbines.

Thomas Graedel, a professor of industrial ecology at Yale University and one of the report's eight authors, warned that the failure to re-use these metals increased the possibility of future shortages.

"If we do not have these materials readily available at reasonable prices, a lot of modern technology simply cannot happen," he said.

"We don't think immediate shortages are likely but we are absolutely unable to make predictions based on the very limited geological exploration currently conducted."

The report recommends improvements in waste management to ensure products containing metal are dealt with more effectively in emerging and developing countries, and encourages product designers to make material separation easier.

Share This Article With Planet Earth DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook

Related Links
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Karlsruhe Invisibility Cloak: Disappearing Visibly
Karlsruhe, Germany (SPX) May 24, 2011
"Seeing something invisible with your own eyes is an exciting experience," say Joachim Fischer and Tolga Ergin. For about one year, both physicists and members of the team of Professor Martin Wegener at KIT's Center for Functional Nanostructures (CFN) have worked on refining the structure of the Karlsruhe invisibility cloak to such an extent that it is also effective in the visible spectral rang ... read more

China to establish rare earths exchange

Low metal recycling threatens green economy: UN report

Skype scrambles after service crash

Trash to treasure: Turning steel-mill waste into bricks

Intelsat General To Support Armed Forces Radio And Television Service

Northrop Grumman Awarded Continuing Operation of Battlefield Airborne Communications Node Contract

ADTI Launches High Performance Antenna Arrays Protype Program

Northrop Grumman Awarded Contract to Develop EHF SatComms Antenna for B-2 Bomber

Russia sends two Soyuz carrier rockets to French Guiana

ILS Proton Successfully Launches Telstar 14R And Estrela do Sul 2 for Telesat

Satellites for Asia and India are orbited on Arianespace's third Ariane 5 mission of 2011

Taiwan, Singapore launch satellite

Galileo: Europe prepares for October launch

EU announces launch date for first Galileo satellites

Europe's first EGNOS airport to guide down giant Beluga aircraft

'Green' GPS saves fuel, energy

Air traffic almost normal as Icelandic volcano settles

Volcano cloud briefly closes north German airspace

Singapore Airlines to set up new low-cost carrier

Expert warns against 'experimenting' with flights in ashw/

Advance design-dependent process monitoring for semiconductor wafer manufacturing

New Bandwidth Management Techniques Boost Operating Efficiency In Multi-Core Chips

New electronics material closer to commercial reality

Graphene optical modulators could lead to ultrafast communications

GOES-13 Satellite Video Close-Up of Deadly Joplin, Missouri Tornado

GMES Masters seeks innovative uses for Earth observation data

Satellites monitor Icelandic ash plume

NASA/University Japan Quake Study Yields Surprises

Bees to monitor air quality at Berlin airport

Europe may ban plastic bags

Falklands mines a running drain of funds

Indian government vows to pursue Bhopal case

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement