Circular Economy as a Means to Efficient Use of Scarce Metals
Conference contribution, 2016

Scarce metals are increasingly used in modern technology, but significant quantities are lost for further functional use in recycling. This study investigates if other measures for a more resource-efficient and “circular economy” (CE) can increase efficiency of scarce metal use. Three CE alternatives, inspired by real business solutions for providing lighting, notebooks and smartphones are compared with respective conventional alternatives, using material flow analysis. Scarce metal efficiency gains are primarily realized by extending the use phase of products or components. However, the extension must be sufficient in order not to be cancelled out by any additional scarce metals that enable the extension. Furthermore, losses of scarce metals occur whenever components are replaced. Therefore, CE alternatives may not necessarily improve efficiency of scarce metals use. Advances to functionally recycle scarce metals and designs that enable components and products to be kept in functional use for longer are needed.

Circular Economy

Scarce Metals



Hampus André

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Environmental Systems Analysis

Maria Ljunggren Söderman

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Environmental Systems Analysis

Anne-Marie Tillman

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Environmental Systems Analysis

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance


Subject Categories

Environmental Management



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