Urban mining for resource supply and its role in sustainable industry

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Session chairs:
Professor Jinhui Li, Tsinghua University, China
Dr Xianlai Zeng, Tsinghua University, China
Professor Donald Huisingh, University of Tennessee, USA

Call for Abstracts for presentations at the Global Cleaner Production and Sustainable Consumption Conference: Accelerating the Transition to Equitable, Sustainable, Post-Fossil-Carbon Societies”, to be held in Sitges, Barcelona, Spain, Nov. 1 – 4, 2015.

The rapidly rising global population, particularly in urban areas, and the close coupling between economic development and resource consumption has increased the rate of depletion of natural resources. Massive amounts of natural resources have been extracted from their natural reservoirs and consumed or accumulated in the cities through construction, production, living, and work (Brunner, 2011). With this background, ‘urban mining’ is becoming an important approach to achieve the win–win situations of enhanced resource sustainability and improved environmental protection, while developing a strong, circular economy based upon re-using and recycling (Krook and Baas, 2013).

From the global view, the potential of urban mining, based upon the quantities of resources that have been buried in landfills and which are hibernating in cities, which if mined could dramatically reduce the amounts of virgin materials that have to be removed from the earth. Therefore, urban mining can help countries reduce the pressure on natural resources and at the same time decrease air and water pollution from the effluents of the landfills. This will help us to enable transition to more sustainable societies and will foster the development of many new extraction and processing industries (Jones et al., 2013).
Although the development of the urban mining concepts and approaches is important, many challenges must be addressed. Development of urban mining will require innovative technologies comparable with the methods for extracting and processing virgin ores. Especially for the new waste streams, their composition is more complex mixtures of materials that are difficult to separate. Furthermore many new products are introduced into the market annually, thus making the engineering, logistical and marketing challenges more difficult. However, the challenges also mean there are more opportunities! It is anticipated that serious involvement in improving urban mining will result in opportunities to promote win–win situations of improved resource recovery and enhanced environmental protection (Graedel, 2011; Li, 2015).

In 2013, the Journal of Cleaner Production published a large special volume on “Urban and Landfill Mining”. Since then urban mining is becoming increasingly for the JCLP, it is relevant that such a focus should be in included in this Global Conference.

This workshop was designed to seek answers to the following questions:

  1. What are the quantities of useful, recoverable materials currently in emerging urban mines at local, regional and national levels? What are the quantities and compositions of materials that are currently being deposited in such urban mines/landfills annually? What are the projected trends of materials to be landfilled if societies continue with business as usual?
  2. Also the mechanisms of transforming current stock of materials that are in use in the cities to recyclable materials in urban metabolism must be investigated with the objective of keeping them in the circular economy and not depositing them into landfills.
  3. The composition and structure of urban mines depend upon their types and sources. In the case of changing composition, components, and their dynamic transitions, how will these dynamics affect the urban mining, processing and marketing of the useful materials derived from these processes?
  4. Because sustainability of society and its industries is dependent upon reliable resource supplies, from nature and in the future from urban mines will be increasingly important. One of the urgent research needs is how can we effectively measure the potential contributions to resource supply from future urban mining and how to transform that potential into reality?
  5. What are the latest technologies for extraction and recovery of materials from landfills and urban mines? What new types of developments are needed? What waste recycling and materials recovery methods have been found to be useful? What urgent problems need to be addressed as we move forward with urban mining?
  6. What approaches are being used to rehabilitate the mined landfills into valuable, and safely useable land after landfilled materials have been removed?
  7. What about the sustainability of urban mining industry? What are the economic, environmental, social factors associated with landfill mining? What is the latest research about the related indicators and methodologies?
  8. What governmental policies and regulations are needed to guide and control landfill mining?
  9. What educational and training programs are needed for all in the entire circular economy associated with landfill mining?

Format and Procedures for Submission of Responses to this Call for Papers

Authors are invited to prepare and submit abstracts, in English, of 500 words by May 29th, 2015 via the Global Conference website: www.cleanerproductionconference.com.

After your extended abstract has been reviewed you will be invited to develop a conference paper on the topic. After the Global Conference, articles will be selected to be developed for potential publication within one of several Special Volumes of the JCLP that will be developed based upon inputs to the Conference.

For more information about the workshop, questions and remarks, please feel free to contact Xianlai Zeng (xlzeng@tsinghua.edu.cn), Jinhui Li (jinhui@tsinghua.edu.cn), or Donald Huisingh (dhuisingh@utk.edu).

References

Brunner, P.H., 2011. Urban Mining A Contribution to Reindustrializing the City. Journal of Industrial Ecology 15, 339-341.
Graedel, T., 2011. The Prospects for Urban Mining. Bridge 41, 43-50.
Jones, P.T., Geysen, D., Tielemans, Y., Van Passel, S., Pontikes, Y., Blanpain, B., Quaghebeur, M., Hoekstra, N., 2013. Enhanced Landfill Mining in view of multiple resource recovery: a critical review. J. Clean Prod. 55, 45-55.
Krook, J., Baas, L., 2013. Getting serious about mining the technosphere: a review of recent landfill mining and urban mining research. J. Clean Prod. 55, 1-9.
Li, J., 2015. Wastes could be resources and cities could be mines. Waste Manage. Res. 33, 301-302.

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