Metal recycling rates at uninspiring levels

While public knowledge of recycling is at an all-time high, in many ways there are some materials that continue to slip through the cracks. According to, a recent report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found that recycling rates for low-grade and high-tech metals are "discouragingly low" at less than one percent. What is most disturbing is that green technologies, such as wind turbines and hybrid car batteries, use these advanced metals and they are not being reused in the way that they should.

Organizations such as the European Commission are pushing for increased rates of metal recycling, and believe that it's necessary to increase the recycling rates as the era of cheap metal ore deposits is rapidly running out. According to the news source, the United Nations report found that less than one third of 60 key metals have a recycling rate above 50 percent, which is far too low to create a more sustainable society.

"By failing to recycle metals and simply disposing of these kinds of metals, economies are foregoing important environment benefits and increasing the possibility of shortages," Professor Thomas Graedel, one of the study's lead authors, told the news source. "If we do not have these materials readily available at reasonable prices, a lot of modern technology simply cannot happen."

For the everyday homeowner, there are some easy ways to avoid metal building up in landfills. Recycling household materials such as aluminum foil, nickel, computer boards and old cell phones is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint and increase recycling rates. Always be sure that you're bringing these materials to the proper receptacles and recycling centers, so that they can be reused properly without being a burden on local landfills.