Publication details


Critical Metals for Sustainable Technologies and their Recycling Potential


The focus of this study lies on future sustainable technologies (FST), such as renewable energies and energy efficient technologies, which will make use of indium (In), germanium (Ge), tantalum (Ta), PGM [platinum group metals, such as ruthenium (Ru), platinum (Pt) and palladium (Pd)], tellurium (Te), cobalt (Co), lithium (Li), gallium (Ga) and RE (rare earths)1. These are also classified as ‘green minor metals’, which are the basis for cleaner technology innovation. Other interesting metals like titanium or magnesium (used for light weight applications) are not addressed by this study but should be also an issue for further UNEP investigations and activities in the future. • first objective is to analyse in depth the global availability and expectations for the development of the ‘critical metals' demand, supply and prices • second, the study focuses on the comprehensive analysis of their recycling potential and identification of gaps • third, the study will explore favourable framework conditions, proposed course of actions, policies, incentives, funds, etc.; instruments, models etc. to predict and monitor the availability of critical metals and recycling systems This study is in line with UNEP’s mission and vision, in particular in regard to resource efficiency/ sustainable consumption and production, which is one priority of UNEP’s mid-term strategy. The results of this study2 will feed into the work of the resource panel, the preparation of the 10-year framework of programs on SCP (Marrakech Process), and hence finally into the 2010/2011 cycle of the Commission on Sustainable Development. These activities will help to accomplish the ultimate goal to stimulate sustainable innovation leading to decoupling of economic growth from environmental degradation. The specific objectives of the study are: - Identification and analysis of the global availability, geographical spread and prices of critical metals. Possible increasing pressure on the supply due to a growing demand through rising uptake of certain innovative technologies. Prioritization of critical metals regarding growing demand and possible scarcities - Analysis of recycling potential for the identified critical metals with high prioritization: o Assessment of the recycling potential considering existing recycling technologies for the identified critical metals including the identification of gaps; o Feasibility assessment for potential innovative technologies for the recycling including the identification of opportunities and barriers. - Identification of framework conditions that could help to foster technologies which enable the implementation of closed-loop recycling systems for critical metals.

Date:July 1st, 2009
File: UNEP_OEKO_CriticalMetals_July09.pdf (4.71 MB)
Author/Authors:Schüler, Doris
Bleher, Daniel
Buchert, Matthias

Copyright by UNEP DTIE, Authors from Öko-Institut e.V.

Topics:Mineral resources and metals