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Title: Challenges to achievement of metal sustainability in our high-tech society

Achievement of sustainability in metal life cycles from mining of virgin ore to consumer and industrial devices to end-of-life products requires greatly increased recycling and improved processing of metals. Electronic and other high-tech products containing precious, toxic, and specialty metals usually have short lifetimes and low recycling rates. Products containing these metals generally are incinerated, discarded as waste in landfills, or dismantled in informal recycling using crude and environmentally irresponsible procedures. Low metal recycling rates coupled with increasing demand for products containing them necessitate increased mining with attendant environmental, health, energy, water, and carbon-footprint consequences. In this tutorial review, challenges to achieving metal sustainability in present high-tech society are presented; health, environmental, and economic incentives for various stakeholders to improve metal sustainability are discussed; a case for technical improvements in separations technology, especially employing molecular recognition, is given; and global consequences of continuing on the present path are examined.
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  1. IBC Advanced Technologies, INC
  2. ORNL
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Chemical Society Reviews; Journal Volume: 43; Journal Issue: 8
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
Sponsoring Org:
EE USDOE - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EE); SC USDOE - Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States