Recycling Rates of Metals: A Status Report

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The recycling of non-renewable resources is often advocated as the solution to potentially restricted supplies. It is indeed true that every kilogram of resources that is successfully recycled obviates the need to locate and mine that kilogram from virgin ores.

Unfortunately, however, and notwithstanding their potential value, industrial and consumer products containing these resources have often been regarded as waste material rather than as “surface mines” waiting to be exploited. This is a nearsighted and unfortunate view. As the planet’s mineral deposits become less able to respond to demand, whether for reasons of low mineral content, environmental challenges, or geopolitical decisions, we limit our technological future by using these resources once and then discarding them through neglect, poor product design, or poor planning.

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