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ECN publication
Is recycling the solution for the reduction of our raw materials demand?
Published by: Publication date:
ECN Environment & Energy Engineering 7-12-2017
ECN report number: Document type:
ECN-E--17-060 ECN publication
Number of pages: Full text:
21 Download PDF  

In this study, a first attempt was made to quantify effects of recycling on the long term supply of raw materials. The research question was: how important is the role of recycling for a sustainable use of materials in a production chain? Important variables in this production and recycling chain are the growth rate in the production of goods, the lifetime of products in the use phase and the percentage of the waste that can be effectively recycled. Material flow analyses (MFA) was used to calculate material flows in a system where raw materials are used to make products with a given lifetime. The products are subsequently partly recycled when reaching their end of life phase. The recycled materials are then available as ‘secondary’ raw materials to make new products. The rejects of used products that are not recycled are assumed to be landfilled. Several scenarios with varying recycling rates, production growth rates and product lifetimes are described in the report.

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