acatech HORIZONS: Urban Mining
The earth’s resources are finite. If we use them wastefully, they will not be able to sustain humanity in the long term. Nevertheless, anything that has reached the end of its useful life is very often thrown away after a short time. This is precisely where urban mining comes in: instead of mining more and more primary materials, the aim is to consistently reuse the stocks of secondary materials which have previously lain unused in cities and settlements. These materials range from building materials to the precious metals in electronic parts to plastics, which until now have often been thrown away. This is partly due to a lack of the data required to locate, reprocess and recycle them. But what are the barriers and how can they be overcome? What is the current state of play and just what will be possible in the future? This issue of HORIZONS focuses on these and other fascinating questions.