Recycling rates of metals are far lower than potential for reuse. Less than one-third of 60 studied have a recycling rate above 50 per cent, though many are crucial to clean technologies such as batteries for hybrid cars or magnets in wind turbines.

    The report

      Download the Full Report: EN
      Download the Summary for Policymakers: EN

      Smarter product designs, support for developing country waste management schemes, and encouraging developed country households not to ‘squirrel away’ old electronic goods in drawers and closets could help boost recycling of metals world-wide.

      According to this report, recycling rates of metals are in many cases far lower than their potential for reuse. Less than one-third of some 60 metals studied have an end-of-life recycling rate above 50 per cent and 34 elements are below 1 per cent recycling, yet many of them are crucial to clean technologies such as batteries for hybrid cars to the magnets in wind turbines, says the study.

      “In spite of significant efforts in a number of countries and regions, many metal recycling rates are discouragingly low, and a ‘recycling society’ appears no more than a distant hope,” states the Recycling Rates of Metals: A Status Report, compiled by UNEP’s International Resource Panel.

      • UNEP (2011), Recycling Rates of Metals – A Status Report. A Report of the Working Group on Global Metal Flows to the International Resource Panel. Graedel, T.E; Allwood, J; Birat, J-P; Reck, B.K; Sibley, S.F; Sonnemann, G; Buchert, M; Hagelüken, C.

      Additional resources

      Picture: Freeimages/OZGUR ARI

      Did you know?

      Main metal-containing items for post-consumer waste are cars, electronic appliances and packaging.

      Picture: Freeimages/Judith Hakze

      Did you know?

      Economic development is deeply linked to the use of metals.

      Picture: Freeimages/LAURENT COTTIER

      Did you know?

      Smartphones, flat-screen TVs and USB keys all drive demand for specialty and precious metals.

      Other reports