Abstract: Rare earths are used in the renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines, batteries, catalysts and electric cars. Current mining, processing and sustainability aspects have been described in this paper. Rare earth availability is undergoing a temporary decline due mainly to quotas being imposed by the Chinese government on export and action taken against illegal mining operations. The reduction in availability coupled with increasing demand has led to increased prices for rare earths. Although the prices have come down recently, this situation is likely to be volatile until material becomes available from new sources or formerly closed mines are reopened. Although the number of identified deposits in the world is close to a thousand, there are only a handful of actual operating mines. Prominent currently operating mines are Bayan Obo in China, Mountain Pass in the US and recently opened Mount Weld in Australia. The major contributor to the total greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint of rare earth processing is hydrochloric acid (ca. 38%), followed by steam use (32%) and electricity (12%). Life cycle based water and energy consumption is significantly higher compared with other metals.
Abstract: Teachers’ knowledge and perceptions of bioenergy, and their motivation to teach such a topic, can largely determine the success of implementing bioenergy related education in schools. The study aimed to explore science teachers’ knowledge and perceptions of bioenergy in India. A questionnaire-based survey was conducted among 28 science teachers from four urban schools in India. Results indicated that the science teachers were fairly knowledgeable regarding bioenergy and they also demonstrated positive perceptions of bioenergy. In addition, they were positive towards the prospect of receiving more information to increase their own knowledge of bioenergy. However, the science teachers appeared to have some misconceptions regarding the issue of CO2 emission from using bioenergy. It also emerged that although the existing Science syllabus for Grade X in Indian schools includes a topic on bioenergy, the majority of the science teachers were not aware of it. Policy makers and educators are recommended to provide science teachers more support to improve their capacity for teaching energy and environmental topics in schools in India. In addition, an improvement of the current learning and teaching environment in Indian schools could help teachers to deliver energy and environmental education more effectively to their students.
Abstract: Living Labs for Sustainable Developmentaim to integrate users and actors for the successful generation of low-resource innovations in production-consumption systems. This paper investigates potentials of and measures towards the realization of a German Living Lab infrastructure to support actor-integrated sustainability research and innovations in Germany. Information was primarily derived from extensive dialog with experts from the fields of innovation, sustainable development and the Living Lab community (operators, users, etc.), which was facilitated through interviews and workshops. A status quo analysis revealed that, generally, the sustainability and Living Lab communities are hardly intertwined. Twelve Living Labs that explicitly consider sustainability aspects were identified. The application fields “Living and Working”, “Town, Region and Mobility”, and “Retail and Gastronomy” were identified as particularly suitable for investigation in Living Labs and highly relevant in terms of resource efficiency. Based on the analyses of drivers and barriers and SWOT, keystones for the development of a research infrastructure for user integrated development of sustainable products and services were formulated. Suggested strategies and measures include targeted funding programs for actor-integrated, socio-technical research based on a Living Lab network, a communication campaign, and programs to foster networking and the inclusion of SMEs.
Abstract: The concept Material Input per Service Unit (MIPS) was developed 20 years ago as a measure for the overall natural resource use of products and services. The material intensity analysis is used to calculate the material footprint of any economic activities in production and consumption. Environmental assessment has developed extensive databases for life cycle inventories, which can additionally be adopted for material intensity analysis. Based on practical experience in measuring material footprints on the micro level, this paper presents the current state of research and methodology development: it shows the international discussions on the importance of accounting methodologies to measure progress in resource efficiency. The MIPS approach is presented and its micro level application for assessing value chains, supporting business management, and operationalizing sustainability strategies is discussed. Linkages to output-oriented Life Cycle Assessment as well as to Material Flow Analysis (MFA) at the macro level are pointed out. Finally we come to the conclusion that the MIPS approach provides relevant knowledge on resource and energy input at the micro level for fact-based decision-making in science, policy, business, and consumption.
Abstract: Transitioning from current resource management practice dominated by linear economic models of consumption and production, to circular models of resource use, will require insights into the stages and processes associated with socio-technical transitions. This paper is concerned with transitions in practice. It explores two frameworks within the transitions literature—the multi-level perspective and transition management theory—for practical guidance to inform a deliberate transition in practice. The critical futures literature is proposed as a source of tools and methods to be used in conjunction with the transition frameworks to influence and enable transitions in practice. This enhanced practical guidance for initiating action is applied to a specific context—transitioning the Australian metals sector towards a circular economy model. This particular transition case study is relevant because the vision of a circular economy model of resource management is gaining traction internationally, Australia is significant globally as a supplier of finite mineral resources and it will also be used in a collaborative research project on Wealth from Waste to investigate possibilities for the circular economy and metals recycling.
Abstract: The paper suggests a sustainable material footprint of eight tons, per person, in a year as a resource cap target for household consumption in Finland. This means an 80% (factor 5) reduction from the present Finnish average. The material footprint is used as a synonym to the Total Material Requirement (TMR) calculated for products and activities. The paper suggests how to allocate the sustainable material footprint to different consumption components on the basis of earlier household studies, as well as other studies, on the material intensity of products, services, and infrastructures. It analyzes requirements, opportunities, and challenges for future developments in technology and lifestyle, also taking into account that future lifestyles are supposed to show a high degree of diversity. The targets and approaches are discussed for the consumption components of nutrition, housing, household goods, mobility, leisure activities, and other purposes. The paper states that a sustainable level of natural resource use by households is achievable and it can be roughly allocated to different consumption components in order to illustrate the need for a change in lifestyles. While the absolute material footprint of all the consumption components will have to decrease, the relative share of nutrition, the most basic human need, in the total material footprint is expected to rise, whereas much smaller shares than at present are proposed for housing and especially mobility. For reducing material resource use to the sustainable level suggested, both social innovations, and technological developments are required.