A Examining the Global Metal Recycling Market

A study on global metals recycling identified feedstock reliability, technology limitations and product design choices as barriers to increasing recycled metal usage.

FREMONT, CA: Many executives in the mining and metals sector believe that "green" metal, particularly recycled metal, will receive more attention in the years to come, according to a 2022 Mining and Metals poll from the international law firm White & Case. Despite its early stage of development, research indicates that industry actors have started to capitalize on the potential. According to the analysis, metal refining and processing is one of the most significant global sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The aluminium and steel industries are estimated to be responsible for two per cent and seven per cent of worldwide CO2 emissions, respectively. Smelting scrap metal for recycling uses substantially less energy and produces significantly fewer emissions, and domestic recycling has recently become more appealing due to global supply chain problems. According to the report, about 20 per cent of world metal output is currently recycled. More items will need to be created for easier metal extraction to have a consistent worldwide feedstock.

Despite the narrative of moving toward a circular economy, increased industrialization and rising living standards imply that scrap feedstock alone will not be enough to meet all of the world's demand for metals, according to the paper. The analysis concluded that even though green metal is appealing, there are still obstacles. Although smelting metal from scrap uses less energy than virgin metal, it nevertheless consumes a significant amount of energy, according to the report. Coal or natural gas is frequently used to generate this energy. Even switching to electricity, which does not create greenhouse emissions at the source, can be unsustainable. While the trend toward electrification is expanding and green energy sources are advancing, the majority of power available on the grid in most nations remains to be sourced from fossil fuels.

Breaking down items and recovering scrap metal can be labour-intensive, which has traditionally been a driver for garbage from industrialised countries being sent to less industrialised countries for sorting and processing. Scrap metals are often gathered from waste dumps by hand, and in some cases by child labour, in less industrialised countries, according to the research. The process of sorting scrap can also be dangerous and damaging to the environment, with toxic compounds seeping into the ground if it is not adequately handled and monitored. Governments will play a crucial role in eliminating barriers through laws and legislation and could give economic incentives, enforce minimum recovery standards, or provide financial support for recycling initiatives.

The Royal Society of Chemistry is promoting a public awareness campaign about the dangers of crucial minerals used in electronics running out this century, as well as the importance of recycling. A study of worldwide perspectives on electronics recycling, split down by nation, and profiles of high-risk metals such as nickel, lithium, cobalt, aluminium, and tantalum are part of the outreach campaign. According to the poll, 56.6 per cent of people worldwide believe that producers should be responsible for recycling. A total of 10,000 participants from ten nations took part in the online survey. According to the research conducted by the Royal Society of Chemistry, 60 per cent of participants stated they would move to a competitor of their favoured technology brand if the rival's product was created sustainably.