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Recycling. Towards a circular economy – PART 2

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GERT-JAN GRUTER
CTO at Avantium and Professor of Industrial Sustainable Chemistry at the University of Amsterdam

In the previous issue of Chimica OGGI / Chemistry TODAY I discussed the third and last carbon source (besides biomass and CO2) that can be used as alternative for fossil resources. This third source is the use of waste materials as feedstock. Mechanical and chemical recycling of plastics was discussed.

In this issue of Chimica Oggi / Chemistry Today I will talk about the recycling of other materials than plastics with special emphasis on metals. To get to a circular economy, we need to help conserve all valuable resources, including metals, phosphorous, and many more “endangered” elements of the Periodic Table for re-use.

Unlike endangered animals, endangered elements (except Helium) will not disappear from the Earth. However, there will be a point when supply cannot keep up with demand when it is no longer economically viable to extract or to re-use a particular element and alternatives, using other elements, will have to be developed. There are many applications where this could become problematic and finding alternatives will be a huge opportuni ...