Japan is a nation which is highly dependent on the import of raw materials to supply its manufacturing industry, notable among them copper. When extracting copper from ore, a large amount of energy is required, typically leading to high levels of CO2 emissions due to the fossil fuel-dominated energy mix. Moreover, maintaining security of raw material supply is difficult if imports are the only source utilized. This study examines the environmental and economic impacts of domestic mineral production from the recycling of end-of-life products and deep ocean mining as strategies to reduce CO2 emissions and enhance security of raw material supplies. The results indicate that under the given assumptions, recycling, which is typically considered to be less CO2 intensive, produces higher domestic emissions than current copper processing, although across the whole supply chain shows promise. As the total quantity of domestic resources from deep ocean ores are much smaller than the potential from recycling, it is possible that recycling could become a mainstream supply alternative, while deep ocean mining is more likely to be a niche supply source. Implications of a progressively aging society and flow-on impacts for the recycling sector are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Energy (miscellaneous)
- Control and Optimization
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering