Raw materials Download as PDF
Issue October 2016

Raw materials

Extraction, processing, recycling

Editorial


From Pliny to the present day – the strategic use of raw materials

Foreword by Michael Sailer, CEO, Oeko-Institut

In the little free time that I have, I like to read the old scholars and historians – Pliny, for example. My summer reading was his Natural History, which is a collection of ancient knowledge of the natural sciences. In one section of his work, Pliny writes about metals and ores and their importance in the ancient world. Even back then, in 77 AD, there were signs of a sustainable approach to raw materials use: Pliny describes how old tools, those made of copper for example, should be melted down and the raw materials re-used.

Nowadays, the notion of recycling is central to a sustainable resource policy. However, strategic management of raw materials goes far beyond re-use, as we explained in our first issue this year (“A roundabout, not a one-way street”). In particular, the procurement of raw materials, frequently from countries outside Europe, must now be tackled...

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From Pliny to the present day – the strategic use of raw materials

In Focus


Roadmap for a sustainable raw materials industry

Primary extraction of raw materials

Every year, around forty tonnes of mercury find their way into the Amazon region of Peru as a result of illegal gold mining. Global steel and cement production alone produce 5.7 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent, six times Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to estimates from UNICEF, the UN children’s organisation, around 40,000 children work in the mines of the southern Congo. In the German state of Hesse, the forest to the south of the Langener Waldsee, which is... more

Roadmap for a sustainable raw materials industry

The dark side of recycling

Secondary extraction of raw materials

Like the words “organic” and “sustainable”, the term “recycling” has positive connotations in Germany. Recovering resources makes sense, of course: without recycling, a sustainable resource strategy would be inconceivable. Recycling has positive impacts on the environment and the remaining mineral deposits. But is this true of all recycling? As experts at the Oeko-Institut reveal, there is another, darker side to recycling in developing countries: for example, the informal... more

The dark side of recycling

“We battled for years before they admitted they were poisoning people”

Interview with Phyllis Omido (Center for Justice, Governance and Environmental Action)

In the heart of Owino Uhuru, a slum in Mombasa, Kenya’s second city, people living near a lead smelter were falling ill. One of them was King David, the son of Phyllis Omido, an employee at the smelter. She realised that unsafe working practices in the extraction of lead from used car batteries were poisoning the local community and the environment. So Phyllis set up an NGO, the Center for Justice, Governance and Environmental Action, and campaigned for years for the closure of... more

“We battled for years before they admitted they were poisoning people”

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