When a mineral becomes scarce there are five things that can be done:
The unnecessary waste of the mineral can be reduced
- For example, by streamlining the manufacturing process
The mineral can be recycled and reused
-For example, metals and plastics can be melted down after they have outlived their use, and used to create new products.
A substitution for the mineral can be found, and/or
-For example, during the materials revolution, the use of metals was replaced in many cases by the use of silicon, ceramics and/or plastics instead. Substitutions, however, are not always feasible or even possible.
We can use what is remaining more sustainably
-Some of the above mentioned points can be included in using the mineral more sustainably. Others ways to do so include:
- Include the environmental impact of mining in processing of the mineral in the price of the item
- Reduce mining subsidies, and increase subsidies for recycling, reuse and finding substitutes
- Use the mineral waste from one process as raw materials for another process
We can adapt to go without it
- Scientists have a lot of faith in the ingenuity of humans. Were a mineral resource to become completely extinct, there is much faith in the adaptability our species to learn how to go without it.