A report released by the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) finds that many metals used in batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles have a recycling rate less than one percent.
Less than one-third of some 60 metals studied have an end-of-life recycling rate above 50 per cent and 34 elements, including neodymium, dysprosium, lanthanum and lithium, are below one percent recycling, yet many of them are crucial to clean technologies such as batteries for hybrids and EVs to the magnets in wind turbines, says the study.
Gallium, indium and selenium used in the increasingly-popular light-emitting diodes (LEDs); tellurium and selenium, which are used in solar panels; are also recycled at less than one percent.
Lead is the most recycled metal with nearly 80 percent of products that contain this harmful metal, like car batteries, are recycled when they reach the end of their useful life.
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said most of the metals and materials outlined in the report can be reused, saving time and energy as the world moves toward a greener economy.
“Raising levels of recycling worldwide can therefore contribute to a transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient green economy while assisting to generate green jobs,” he said in a statement.
The UNEP report adds that the era of cheap materials is coming to an end. Most metals, the report adds, are “inherently recyclable.”[source: UNEP]