While most of us are familiar with the battle for middle earth (LOTR), our generation’s battle may be over something called ‘Rare Earth’. This is a group of 17 chemical elements which are essential to our increasing demand for green technology. They are used to make everything from smartphones to wind turbines. As it stands today, China produces more than 95% of the world’s supply, but that will change in coming years.
Rare Earth Metals are becoming a hot button topic as China decreases exports and the rest of the world scrambles to find new long-term sources. In addition to finding new environmentally conscious ways to mine these precious metals, we need to start designing products with their end of life (EOL) in mind. We continue to mine Rare Earths and other minerals only to throw them in our landfills when we are done with the products that contain them. The infographic below attempts to shed further light on this complex issue.