Metals in Waste

There is a substantial body of research related to metal flows and stocks (Chen and Graedel 2012), inevitably including waste and recycling flows.

One of the motivations of metal flow studies is to estimate recycling rates of those metals. Graedel et al. (2011) provide an overview on the current knowledge of recycling rates for 60 metals and show that many end-of-life recycling ratios (EOLRRs) are very low: only for 18 metals (silver, aluminum, gold, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, niobium, nickel, lead, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium, tin, titanium, and zinc) is the EOL-RR above 50 % at present. We need further research on recycling flows; this should be standardized and institutionalized in the compilation of statistics.

How many times materials are expected to be recycled is also an interesting and important question (see Chap. 7). Markov chain modeling has been applied to estimate average times of use of steel (Matsuno et al. 2007), stainless steel (Hashimoto et al. 2010), nickel (Eckelman et al. 2012), and copper (Eckelman and Daigo 2008). Results were, respectively, 2.7, 1.9–4.3, 3, and 1.9 times.

Some studies discuss alloying elements in metal recycling (Nakajima et al. 2011, 2013; Nakamura et al. 2012; Ohno et al. 2014). For example, Ohno et al. (2014) showed that considerable amounts of alloying elements, which correspond to 7–8 % of the annual consumption in electric arc furnace (EAF) steelmaking, are unintentionally introduced into EAFs. This type of analysis is an interesting application of MFA to help development of more appropriate recycling systems.

As metal stocks in a society are important sources of secondary resources, research related to the assessment of stocks has been increasing (Gerst and Graedel 2008). Using satellite night-time light observation data is an innovative and interesting methodological approach to stock estimation (Takahashi et al. 2009; Hsu et al. 2013). On the conceptual aspect of stocks as resources, classification of secondary resources in the anthroposphere was proposed (Hashimoto et al. 2008), based on the classification of primary resources in the lithosphere, i.e. so-called McKelvey diagram (McKelvey 1972). Analysis of stocks must be an important topic in coming decades.

Phosphorus in Waste

Phosphorus is as an essential nutrient for agriculture, but phosphate rock is a nonrenewable resource and its deposits will be exhausted in a long term. Therefore, in addition to increasing phosphorus use efficiency in agricultural systems, phosphorus needs to be recovered from all current waste streams (Cordell et al. 2011). Especially, wastes rich in phosphorus can represent new sources. MFA can provide an effective tool to identify such new sources.

Sewage sludge is one candidate as a potential source of phosphorus and commonly utilized by spreading directly to farm land (Lederer and Rechberger 2010). However, by conducting MFA of phosphorous in Gothenburg, Sweden, Kalmykova et al. (2012) concluded that solid waste incineration residues represented a large underestimated sink of phosphorus and that focusing on wastewater as the sole source of recovered phosphorus was not sufficient. Further, Matsubae-Yokoyama et al. (2009) analyzed availability of phosphorus resources that remain untapped for Japan and found that the quantity of phosphorus in iron and steel-making slag was almost equivalent to that in imported phosphate ore in terms of both amount and concentration.

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