Metals can in theory be infinitely recycled in a closed-loop without any degradation in quality. In reality, however, open-loop recycling is more typical for metal scrap recovered from end-of-life (EoL) products because mixing of different metal species results in scrap quality that no longer matches the originals. Further losses occur when meeting the quality requirement of the target product requires dilution of the secondary material by adding high purity materials. Standard LCA usually does not address these losses. This paper presents a novel approach to quantifying quality- and dilution losses, by means of hybrid input-output analysis. We focus on the losses associated with the recycling of ferrous materials from end-of-life vehicle (ELV) due to the mixing of copper, a typical contaminant in steel recycling. Given the quality of scrap in terms of copper density, the model determines the ratio by which scrap needs to be diluted in an electric arc furnace (EAF), and the amount of demand for EAF steel including those quantities needed for dilution. Application to a high-resolution Japanese IO table supplemented with data on ferrous materials including different grades of scrap indicates that a nationwide avoidance of these losses could result in a significant reduction of CO2 emissions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry