Recently, the issue of sustainable resource management has been increasingly recognized.
Economic growth of human activity is associated with a rapid rise in the use of resources
in our economy, and society has a potential environmental impact. The UNEP International
Resource Panel (IRP) pointed out the importance of decoupling resource use and negative
environmental impacts from economic activity (UNEP IRP 2011). In order to
optimize the material cycles and increase resource efficiency, material flow analysis
(MFA) is a powerful tool to understand the resource consumption and material cycle in the
national economy. In this study, we present the results of global material flow analysis
of nickel, which is one of the important resources for reducing energy use and
CO2 emission in
our society, and discuss the importance and possibility of controlling its resource
logistics. This study also introduces the challenge of identifying the land-use changes in
nickel mining sites by a remote-sensing technique, and knowledge to increase the resource
efficiency in metal recycling based on the metallurgical thermodynamic approach. The
results indicated the importance of recovery of nickel in recycling policies for
end-of-life (EoL) vehicles and constructions. Improvement in EoL sorting technologies and
implementation of designs for recycling/disassembly at the manufacturing phase are needed.
Possible solutions include development of sorting processes for steel scrap and
introduction of easier methods for identifying the composition of secondary resources.
Recovery of steel scrap with a high alloy content will reduce primary inputs of alloying
elements and contribute to more efficient resource use.