Circular Economy as a Way Forward Against Material Criticality: The Case of Rare Earth Elements in the Context of Sustainable Development

Palle Paul Mejame, M., King, David, and He, Yinghe (2023) Circular Economy as a Way Forward Against Material Criticality: The Case of Rare Earth Elements in the Context of Sustainable Development. In: Muthu, Subramanian Senthilkannan, (ed.) Life Cycle Assessment & Circular Economy. Environmental Footprints and Eco-design of Products and Processes . Springer, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 47-67.

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Circular economy (CE) is promoted as a strategy with systematic solutions to the global economy and environmental issues surrounding material criticality, such as resource scarcity and waste reduction. Improvements in sustainable resource consumption practices like material efficiency, reuse, repairs, design for long life, recycling efficiency, etc. are promising CE strategies to improve the resource use efficiency of rare earth elements (REEs). However, this cannot be achieved without a broader consideration of environmental, social, economic, geological and technical aspects of the consumption of these metals. The sustainability and criticality of REEs can well be understood by critically examining the consumption of these metals from the perspective of sustainable development and its three pillars (environmental, social and economic), including the geological and technical aspects of these metals. An understanding of REEs consumption within the framework of sustainability provides a background for the implementation of CE strategies to achieve material resource efficiencies by closing material loops and minimising environmental and social impact.

This study, therefore, employed a holistic and systematic approach to assessing the sustainability of REEs consumption with Australia as a case study. Based on the CE model, a sustainability framework followed by an implementation strategy to close the material loop and minimise the adverse impacts of resource shortages while achieving maximum environmental benefits was developed. These results are significant as they would allow the evaluation of existing resource efficiency strategies in REEs and make recommendations to improve sustainability outcomes in Australia, a strategy for global uptake.

Item ID: 80367
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-3-031-33982-0
ISSN: 2345-766X
Keywords: Circular economy, Life cycle impact analysis, Material criticality, Material efficiency, Material use, Rare earth elements, Resource efficiency, Sustainability
Copyright Information: © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023.
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2024 04:31
FoR Codes: 40 ENGINEERING > 4014 Manufacturing engineering > 401407 Manufacturing management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 24 MANUFACTURING > 2406 Environmentally sustainable manufacturing activities > 240601 Development of recyclable or biodegradable componentry, packaging or materials @ 100%
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