The beauty of recycling
Contrary to other resources like paper or plastics, metals can be indefinitely recycled with substantial savings (costs, energy as well as CO2 savings) compared to primary production from raw materials. For example, compared with production from raw materials from mines, metal recycling reduces CO2 emissions by 80-95%.
Recycling also fosters economic development, as local collecting and recycling facilities create more jobs than sending waste to the incinerator, or worse, to a landfill. With the electrification of the economy, metals play a central role in the energy transition, and new sorting and processing technologies will help to increase the recycling rates of batteries and electronics.
A global trend in sustainability
Recycled metals account for between 60% and 90% of most metals production in mature economies (EU, US, Japan), especially as EU and national laws prohibit the export of waste material and force countries to develop a domestic recycling infrastructure. In fast growing countries like China or India, who still rely essentially on raw materials as they have limited accumulated resources to be recycled, the share of scrap is expected to rise rapidly. China, the largest importer of waste in the world, is already taking steps to develop a sustainable and local recycling industry, by enforcing a ban on some waste imports.
In a world of finite mineral resources with a global population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, recycling will be essential to meet demand in a sustainable way. Countries with high recycling rates will gain growing independence from primary metal imports by fostering a local circular economy.
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