Elemental Sustainability and the Importance of Scarce Element Recovery
A growing movement towards the development of “low carbon technologies” and an increased demand for consumer electronics are contributing towards a resource deficit. Many of these technologies require rare and precious metals for their production and use. The reserves of these elements are being depleted at a rapid rate, but they are not “running out” or being destroyed. These unique elements are being quickly dispersed throughout our environment, making their recapture both highly challenging and costly. As such, it is essential to develop new sustainable routes and strategies for the recovery and reuse of these elements. This chapter discusses the issues relating to those elements regarded as being “critical” in terms of having significant international supply risk issues and which are also vital to a nation’s economy (or company’s business). The importance of adopting a sustainable holistic approach to the extraction, processing, use and recovery is highlighted as being vital in ensuring a sustainable long‐term supply of all elements.