A report published on 25 April by Eurométaux, the European metals producers' association, warns that "Europe has a window of opportunity to avoid bottlenecks for several materials that are likely to be in global shortage by the end of this decade". By 2030, several materials are likely to be in global shortage due to the global expansion of renewable energy and electric vehicles. The demand for metals useful for the energy transition will explode by 2050: +3500% for lithium, +2600% for dysprosium (rare earths), +330% for cobalt.
According to the researchers, solutions do exist, but they need to act quickly. Indeed, by 2050, 40% to 75% of needs could be covered by recycling, provided that Europe invests in infrastructure and raises its mandatory recycling rates.
Also on the subject of recycling, scientists say there is an urgent need to speed up the recycling of e-waste, as extracting precious metals from the earth to make new gadgets is not sustainable. One study estimated the global mountain of discarded electronics to be 57 million tonnes in 2021 alone. The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) believes that a global effort is now needed to exploit this waste, rather than mining the Earth.
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