Circular economy: Questions for responsible minerals, additive manufacturing and recycling of metals

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Resources, 2014, 3 (2), pp. 432 - 453
Issue Date:
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© 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. The concept of the circular economy proposes new patterns of production, consumption and use, based on circular flows of resources. Under a scenario where there is a global shift towards the circular economy, this paper discusses the advent of two parallel and yet-to-be-connected trends for Australia, namely: (i) responsible minerals supply chains and (ii) additive manufacturing, also known as 3D production systems. Acknowledging the current context for waste management, the paper explores future interlinked questions which arise in the circular economy for responsible supply chains, additive manufacturing, and metals recycling. For example, where do mined and recycled resources fit in responsible supply chains as inputs to responsible production? What is required to ensure 3D production systems are resource efficient? How could more distributed models of production, enabled by additive manufacturing, change the geographical scale at which it is economic or desirable to close the loop? Examples are given to highlight the need for an integrated research agenda to address these questions and to foster Australian opportunities in the circular economy.
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