7.8 billion. That’s how many people live on our planet. About 83 million new babies are born every year. The growth of the world’s population in recent decades, combined with changing consumption patterns, means that we are depleting our planet. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is a very topical issue. We are no longer using our planet, but are currently abusing it.
Traditional production of raw materials
Iron ore production has increased by 180% over the past 10 years. During this period, the production of cobalt – used mainly to make batteries and accumulators in phones, laptops and electric cars – increased by 165% and even coal mining increased by 44%.
What we often do not realise is that mining has disastrous consequences for our ecosystem. Think of the deforestation and the toxins dangerously polluting the soil and water. The Brazilian bauxite mine alone (bauxite is a mineral that forms an important aluminium ore) on the Rio Trombetas destroys three hundred hectares of forest every year.
This is caused by greed! Extreme, insatiable greed for resources. What is the solution? There are various “solutions” but the most important ones are to be more conscious and to consume less.
The circular economy should also contribute to less waste. Reuse is a hot topic these days. It is possible to extend the lifespan of many appliances. For example, an upgrade can extend a computer’s lifespan by a few years. But how do you do this with a vacuum cleaner? For the producers, this is a major challenge. It is therefore good to see that manufacturers are adjusting their business models to concepts such as ‘design to recycle’. For the manufacturer/producer, it is increasingly important that the appliances they produce can be efficiently dismantled in a modular way or made suitable for reuse.
Urban Mining plays an increasingly important role when it comes to recovering raw materials from our discarded products. Our cities are full of resources. A good contemporary example of Urban Mining is the collection of electrical and electronic appliances. After dismantling, the raw materials can be recovered through a complex technical process. This is not only cheaper, but uses much less energy and is many times more sustainable than conventional mining. Recycling aluminium takes only 5% of the energy needed to produce new aluminium. Aluminium can also be recycled endlessly without loss of quality. Furthermore, the concentration of precious metals and minerals in electronic waste is up to 50 times higher than in mined ores. Another factor is that there are often major conflicts concerning the control of mines. Think of the mining industry in Congo (cobalt).
Holland Recycling is also happy to contribute to the circular economy by recycling and reusing electronics. All done under WEEELABEX certification, of course.
Want to know more? We would be happy to tell you more. Please feel free to contact us.