The fact that the Earth’s resources are limited has begun to make an impact on our collective mindset. Limited fossil resources and the recent peak in oil production have marked public opinion.
Then we have a scarcity of metals: iron, although widespread, is also widely used in reinforced concrete in the construction industry; copper is an excellent electrical conductor…
Today’s concern is for the precious metals and the omnipresent rare earths. These are to be found in small quantities in all modern technologies, in particular in batteries, fuel cells, electronics, and magnets, and their finite nature is also beginning to cause concern.
Action can be taken at both ends of a product’s life cycle:
- design products which limit the use of materials especially in the case of scarcer materials.
- recover then recycle the most valuable materials at a product’s end-of-life.
In both cases a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is necessary, not forgetting to include the energy used to manufacture the vehicle (particularly EV batteries).