Global warming and climate change need to be arrested. The urgency to shift from products using fossil fuel to cleaner and greener alternatives. The world can tackle the climate crisis only when there is easy availability and an increase in the supply of metals required to produce solar cells, EVs, wind turbines, and other products that will push the usage of clean energy technologies.
The switch to greener technologies has propelled the demand for certain metals drastically. A diverse range of industrial applications has stirred the demand for cobalt considerably. Most of the rare earth elements are supplied by China. The acceleration towards using green energy has created a sharp surge in the demand for metals such as copper, lithium, rare earth elements, cobalt, and nickel among others. A rise in traditional mining has consequences on the environment and climate change. Issues of price volatility and supply chain volatility do not vanish in electrified or renewable energy systems.
Many of these metals are supplied by just a few countries and the supply chain can be disturbed due to wars and geopolitical factors. This leads to shortages and price fluctuations. The available deposits of some minerals are on the decline and mining organizations today face tighter regulations from an environmental standpoint. Urban mining can be a game changer if tapped and exploited for global good.
The circular economy is designed towards producing less waste besides promoting the principles of reuse and recycling. Here’s where urban mining plays an increasingly important role when it comes to recovering raw materials from our discarded products.
Consumerism has given rise to cities that are full of resources. Landfills are a reservoir of secret treasures that are waiting to be explored and tapped. Consumer electronics and smartphones are changed so often in today’s consumeristic society that most of them end up in landfills and waste collection centres.
Urban mining and recycling of waste have multiple benefits. Extracting metals and minerals is not only cheaper but needs far less energy and is more sustainable than traditional mining. Recycling aluminium takes only 5% of the energy needed to produce virgin aluminium.
The quality of urban mined metals is as good as newly mined metals. Furthermore, the concentration of precious metals and minerals in electronic waste is nearly 50 times greater than in mined ores. Conflicts concerning the control of mines and deposit availability can be negated through urban mining. Geopolitical events that can disrupt global supply chains are also taken care of.
The switch to greener technologies has propelled the demand for certain metals drastically. A diverse range of industrial applications has stirred the demand for cobalt considerably. Most of the rare earth elements are supplied by China. A rise in traditional mining has consequences on the environment and climate change. Issues of price volatility and supply chain volatility do not vanish in electrified or renewable energy systems. Urban mining can be a game changer if tapped and exploited for global good.
Materials and waste items from disposed construction, electronic and electrical goods can be considered as the starting point for the urban mining process. These are the initial stocks or deposits that urban mining companies can mine in the future.
The recycling potential for urban mining can vary depending on the metal and the items recycled. The average concentration of most metals is far greater in waste items that in the original ore.
Greenscape Eco Management aims at creating solid synergies between the concept of a circular economy and urban mining and as an innovator in incorporating circular solutions to improve resource management, carbon footprint control, and societal well-being. Our urban mining technologies can be strategically utilized to reduce the demand for raw materials from cities and the associated social and environmental impact.
Unsustainable mining has a severe impact on the environment and human health. A circular economy reduces risk, creates new revenues, and also supports SDGs that strive towards the creation of a better world for all.
Urban mining helps to promote SDGs 8,9 10, 11, and 17. It creates new, meaningful jobs that support SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth and SDG 9- Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure.
The industry needs servicing, refurbishing, and remanufacturing of products as well as recovering everything at the end of use. These jobs often require a visual and tactile inspection, judging what is needed to create another lifecycle for recycled materials. Some of these jobs might not be conducive to automation.
Regenerative and recycling technologies contribute towards ‘leveling up’ goals for society, thereby advocating SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities.
SDG11 advocates Sustainable Cities and Communities that aim to ensure inclusive, safe, resilient, sustainable urban settlements. Urban mining utilizes the abundant opportunities that e-waste offers by using cleaner technologies and reducing the need for traditional mining that has hazardous consequences for the habitat and the environment.
SDG 17 is about "partnerships for the goals”. Through effective global partnerships, we can ensure a safer fairer world for everyone. Urban mining promotes a collaborative ecosystem that can thrive as it involves government, society, and society.