New Environmental Strategies in the Metals Industry

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The WorldChanging team posted a retrospective piece earlier this week that focused on sustainability in the metals industry. Some of their statistics were startling. While it’s not surprising to  read that 18 percent of CO2  emissions come from industrial activity, who knew that 56 percent of that pollution stems from metal production? Yikes!

Writer Alex Steffen covers the basics when it comes to eliminating waste in the metals industry. Recycling metals? Check. Betting mining techniques? Check. But the article goes one step further, and offers some fresh alternatives:Dematerialization, product-service systems, producer take-backs and design for disassembly, land-use changes.”

One strategy in the article seems especially promising: “Design the thing [computer, car, etc.] to last a long time and be repairable or upgradable, reducing the need for replacements.” That sounds good to me! Other proposed initiatives also seem interesting, particularly one that requests “completely recyclable designs.” This poses an issue with electronics, as some of our readers have noted after attempting to recycle cell phones or keyboards. Too much trouble, many said. As the author implies, these items need to recycle with ease for most people to take the time to save them. Any ideas for simplifying the process?

The article links to another stellar piece from the same site: If It Isn’t Grown, It Must Be Mined. I remember seeing that statement on bumper stickers throughout Missouri. Until last night, I had never read WorldChanging, but there’s some interesting information on this site. Learn more about the environmental implications of metals mining, and ways those implications can be better controlled.

–Amy Edwards

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