Recycling rare earths must be EU priority

14th January 2014


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Waste ,
  • Recycling ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • Products ,
  • Ecodesign

Author

Brian Mizon

EU policy needs to encourage the development of technology and infrastructure to recycle rare earth elements (REEs) to ensure sufficient long-term supplies, according to new research published recently in the journal Environmental Science & Technology

The Dutch-based research team used lifecycle and material flow methods to estimate the quantities of neodymium and dysprosium contained in end-of-life products collected in global and EU-27 recycling programmes up to 2030.

The study focused on neodymium magnets, which also sometimes contain dysprosium and are used in computer hard disk drives, direct-drive wind turbine generators and electric motors in hybrid electric vehicles.

The researchers predict that recycling rates for both elements will rise substantially by 2030 as higher volumes of end-of-life products, predominantly wind turbines and electric and hybrid vehicles, enter waste streams.

By the start of the next decade, around 450 tonnes of neodymium and 10 tonnes of dysprosium could be recycled globally, they say. And by 2030, the research forecasts that the amount of recycled neodymium will rise to 2,200 tonnes, while 460 tonnes of dysprosium will likely be recovered. This represents 9% and 7% respectively of total global demand for these elements.

Meanwhile, the Environment Agency has issued an environmental permit to Wolf Minerals UK to operate a mining waste facility at Hemerdon in Devon. It means that Wolf can shortly start production at the site, which will be one of the world’s largest tungsten mining operations, and according to the company, is the first significant mine to be constructed in the UK in more than 45 years.

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

Hosting the energy transition

Sarah Spencer on the clear case for stronger partnerships between farmers and renewable energy developers

6th June 2024

Read more

A system-level review is needed to deliver a large-scale programme of retrofit for existing buildings. Failure to do so will risk missing net-zero targets, argues Amanda Williams

31st May 2024

Read more

Chris Seekings reports from a webinar helping sustainability professionals to use standards effectively

31st May 2024

Read more

Although many organisations focus on scope 1 and 2 emissions, it is vital to factor in scope 3 emissions and use their footprint to drive business change

31st May 2024

Read more

Joe Nisbet explores the challenges and opportunities of delivering marine net gain through offshore renewables

31st May 2024

Read more

IEMA submits response to the Future Homes Standard consultation

31st May 2024

Read more

Hello and welcome to the June/July of Transform.

31st May 2024

Read more

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close