Thursday, 27 September 2012

Royal Soc Materials Efficiency Event

The Royal Society had a fascinating event in Jan2012 entitled "Material efficiency: providing material services with less material production" which had an impressive list of speakers and has been reported on by the Institute of Materials here, on which the following very short precis is based:

Professor Tim Gutowski of MIT pointed out how, for items such as refrigerators, “‘The enormous energy required in the use phase of something like a refrigerator dwarfs the cost of the materials processing and manufacturing,’ adding that this means that replacement with a more energy efficient model can be a better decision that might initially be expected.

The lack of progress on recovery of rare earth metals prompted Robert Ayres from Insead to suggest that regulations might be required to force companies to take responsibility for the disposal of their components and devices.

And perhaps most thought provokingly, Cameron Hepburn from the LSE described how labour was often more efficient than automation and that the government could encourage this by switching the tax burden from labour to materials

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