If you’ve been reading our latest blog posts, you know that urban mining is an effective way to recover valuable elements from discarded materials. These sources include everything from TVs and cellphones to demolished buildings and other waste streams. Metals, along with many other resources, are non-renewable. This means that once we have harvested all the metals ores from our environment, we will not be able to replace them readily by natural means. The process of recovering these resources with urban mining can help shift our linear economy to a circular one.

What Is A Linear Economy?

In a linear economy we take, we make, and we dispose. For example, we take virgin raw materials like metal and plastic to make a cellphone. The phone is sold and used by consumers. Then when a newer model comes out, the phone is disposed of, taking up space in a landfill.

Our economy is built on this linear process. Most of the goods you own are built, used, and disposed of. Every time this happens, we are eating into a finite supply of resources, which are then left in a landfill, potentially leaching toxic chemicals into the surrounding soil. At some point, these resources will dry up, and the environment will remain polluted.

How Is The Circular Economy Different?

In a circular economy, instead of disposing of outdated or obsolete goods, the materials are collected and reused to make other goods. In this way, these materials can be useful beyond the shelf life of individual products. Since urban mining’s purpose is to collect metals from e-waste and other discarded materials, it fits well into this new way of thinking.

A shift to the circular economy would also change the way businesses operate and how we view ownership. Instead of purchasing our technologies, we would merely license them from the manufacturer, similar to how we lease a car or an apartment. After the lease would finish, your phone, dishwasher, or other technology would be returned to the manufacturer where it could be disassembled and made into new products.

Thinking Long-Term

The circular economy builds prosperity long-term. We can create new products from old ones so that they don’t contaminate our environment. This also lessens our dependence on finite resources. Urban mining is helping with this shift. For more information about urban mining and e-waste solutions, contact Sepro Urban Mining today.