A key question that relates to the very broad and intensive use of metals is whether society needs to be concerned about long-term supplies of any or many of them. To examine this question, this reports reviews 54 studies on the topic.

    Did you know?

    For only about a third of metals do we have any metal stock in society information at all.

    Did you know|?

    Quantification of metal stocks in society is limited by the availability of data in most cases.

    Did you know?

    Little information is available on the amount and location of metals in landfills.

    The report

      A key question that relates to the very broad and intensive use of metals is whether society needs to be concerned about long-term supplies of any or many of them.  This is a many-faceted question that cannot be answered quickly or unequivocally.

      To address it, the International Resource Panel’s Working Group on Global Metal Flows envisions a series of six reports, of which this is the first one addressing metal stocks in society.  The continued increase in the use of metals over the 20th century has led to a substantial shift from geological resource base to metal stocks in society. This report reviews the relevant literature on this topic.  From a compilation of 54 studies, it is clear that a reasonably detailed picture of in-use stocks and in-use lifetimes exists for only five metals: aluminium, copper, iron, lead, and zinc. Limited data suggest that per capita in-use stocks in more developed countries typically exceed those in less-developed countries by factors of five to ten.  Reliable data on metals stocks in society and their lifetimes are essential for building a global recycling infrastructure in the future

      Other reports