Towards a Sustainable and Circular Metals Economy
In-use stocks of products can be considered as intermediaries between human needs and the physical world.
- Dong, D.
- 16 June 2021
- Thesis in Leiden Repository
In-use stocks of products can be considered as intermediaries between human needs and the physical world. During use, they fulfil important functions, but they can also be seen as a source of materials for the future: the production of secondary materials. This idea of an urban mine is applied to copper in China in this dissertation. Taking into account that most modern technologies rely on copper, consumption of diverse copper-containing products in China is increasing rapidly. The in-use copper stocks have become a large reservoir for urban mining. It is of crucial importance to secure future supply by closing copper cycles, thereby also reducing environmental pressure. Therefore, the aim of this research is to explore how the stocks and flows related to the Chinese copper cycle can be transformed into a sustainable and circular economy. The material flow analysis and life cycle assessment approaches are used to quantify the in-use stocks, demand and waste generation for copper under the Chinese policies related to general economic development, the energy transition and ambitions with regard to circular economy, and assess associated environmental impacts as well as identify potential options to realize the dematerialization and environmental sustainability of the copper cycle in China.