Urban Mining is a key concept of sustainable civilization models ...

Urban Mining involves the identification of anthropogenic deposits, the quantification of secondary raw materials contained therein, economic considerations in the light of the available technical recovery variants and the currently achievable and future projected revenues and ultimately the economic recycling and recovery of the identified recyclable materials and the integrated management of anthropogenic deposits. Anthropogenic resources, in contrast to the primary resources, are those resources that are or were being used by people.



The relevant distinguishing feature in the consideration of urban mines are - in the sense of a life cycle assessment - the period over which resources are released. That is the period when those raw materials used in production and consumption goods are available again. Here, the various camps, depending on the period of use, differ in long and short term urban mines. Significant differences are noticeable for the various mines in the level of value consistency, the effort required for the use of secondary raw materials, the degree of influence through previous consumption and its achievable proceeds.


... and future-oriented innovation policy
>> The recycling rate in Germany is relatively high and some raw materials are already involved in a permanent recycling cycle. However, dependence on rare earths and the efforts for a more sustainable use of natural resources require alternatives. Urban Mining needs a greater role in the formulation of policy responses. The more  the Federal Republic invests in the exploration of urban mining and increasing the efficiency of resource use, the more the German economy can become immune to the pressure of global demand, while new methods of urban mining with rising commodity prices can additionally create attractive export products. Especially in emerging markets the demand for such solutions in the medium term is expected to increase dramatically. <<
Excerpt from analysis & arguments, Global Megatrends (III): Commodities - alternatives develop and create new paradigms. Working Group Young foreign policy of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

>> Another approach to conserving scarce resources, which should complement the substitution, is the development of concepts, technologies, processes and services for the so-called urban mining. In this case urban mining means measures, which recover raw materials from anthropogenically created deposits, such as the industrial and municipal buildings and infrastructure inventory, mining and metallurgical dumps and landfill sites. In these areas more copper, for example, now incorporated as exists in natural deposits. Urban Mining can thus reduce dependence on rising commodity prices and imports. In contrast to the recovery of valuable materials from old landfills, the use of recyclable materials from the dismantling of infrastructure can partly be profitably today. This aims to promote primarily innovative approaches to increase the recycling rate. Through consistent recycling for example, anthropogenic copper deposits compared to primary production the environmental impact associated therewith can be significantly reduced. Against the background of increasing scarcity and rising commodity prices therefore it is the purpose of the foundation to use the time-to-profitability of urban mining or shorten it while the necessary technical and logistical measures are being researched and developed. <<
Excerpt from the announcement by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) guidelines for funding measures r³ - Innovative Technologies for Resource Efficiency - Strategic Metals and Minerals