Resource recovery

From CEOpedia | Management online

Resource recovery refers to the process of extracting valuable materials or energy from waste or by-products of industrial processes. This can include recycling, composting, and energy recovery through methods such as incineration or anaerobic digestion. Resource recovery can help to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, reduce the need for virgin resources, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. It is an important aspect of sustainable waste management and can have significant environmental and economic benefits.

Resource recovery solutions

There are a variety of resource recovery solutions that can be used to extract value from waste and by-products. Some examples include:

  • Recycling: This involves collecting, processing, and manufacturing materials from waste so they can be used again. Commonly recycled materials include paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, glass, and textiles.
  • Composting: This is the process of breaking down organic waste, such as food scraps and yard waste, into a nutrient-rich soil amendment.
  • Energy recovery: This involves capturing energy from waste through methods such as incineration or anaerobic digestion. Incineration involves burning waste to generate heat or electricity, while anaerobic digestion uses microorganisms to break down organic matter and produce methane, which can be used as a fuel source.
  • Materials recovery: This process involves extracting valuable materials such as metals, glass, plastics, and paper fibers from waste and recycling them.
  • Landfill mining: This process involves excavating waste from landfills and sorting through it to recover recyclable and reusable materials.
  • Chemical recycling: This process involves converting waste plastics into new chemical products or fuels, as an alternative to traditional mechanical recycling.

These are just a few examples, and there are many other resource recovery solutions being developed and implemented in different countries and regions. The most effective solution will depend on the specific waste stream and local conditions.

Resource recovery in circular economy

Resource recovery is an important aspect of the circular economy, which is an economic model that aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, and then recover and regenerate them at the end of their service life. The circular economy is based on the principles of reducing, reusing, and recycling materials and resources, rather than the traditional linear model of take-make-waste.

In a circular economy, resource recovery plays a key role in closing the loop and keeping materials and resources in circulation. By recovering valuable materials and energy from waste, the circular economy reduces the need for virgin resources and reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills. This helps to conserve resources, create jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Moreover, resource recovery can also support the circular economy by creating new business models, such as product-as-a-service, and by enabling new business opportunities such as the development of circular materials and products.

Overall, resource recovery is a key component of the circular economy, and the two concepts are closely linked, as they both aim to create a more sustainable and resilient economy by reducing waste and conserving resources.

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Life cycle of technologyIntegrated waste managementWaste managementAlternative technologyRecovered materialEco efficiencyEcological sustainabilityGreen powerConservation of resources