Progress towards a circular economy in materials to decarbonize electricity and mobility

Payne Institute Fellows Dustin Mulvaney, Sridhar Seetharaman, Director Morgan D.Bazilian, Strategy and Operations Manager Greg Clough, Ryan M.Richards, and Erin Hensley write about how over 90% of the global economy continues to use natural resources unsustainably. The linear “take-make-toss” approach to materials use still prevails over circular economy and industrial ecology ideas in practice. The shift to renewable energy is one step towards building an economy on more circular material flows. But the materials needed to decarbonize electricity and mobility are supplied by mining and extractives industries, places where impacts from natural resource extraction can be most severe. Manufacturers of wind turbines, photovoltaics, batteries and vehicles—critical technologies to the clean energy transition—still primarily rely on feedstocks and inputs from natural resources as opposed to waste for processing and production. December 11, 2020.