While Australia has traditionally relied on obtaining metals from primary sources (namely mined natural resources), there is significant potential to recover metals from end-of-life-products and industrial waste. Although any metals recycling value chain requires a feasible technology at its core, many other non-technical factors are key links in the chain, which can compromise the overall viability to recycle a commodity and/or product. The “Wealth from Waste” Cluster project funded by the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Flagship Collaboration Fund and partner universities is focusing on identifying viable options to “mine” metals contained in discarded urban infrastructure, manufactured products and consumer goods. A key aspect of this research is to understand the critical non-technical barriers and system opportunities to enhance rates of metals recycling in Australia. Work to date has estimated the mass and current worth of metals in above ground resources. Using these outcomes as a basis, a typology for different options for (metal) reuse and recycling has been developed to classify the common features, which is presented in this article. In addition, the authors investigate the barriers and enablers in the recycling value chain, and propose a set of requirements for a feasible pathway to close the material loop for metals in Australia.
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