In this case, we map the issues that arise across the life cycle in “green” technologies such as wind turbines, electric cars, and electronics that are often hidden from the designers, manufacturers, and users of these technologies. We do this by focusing on some life cycle issues of using rare earth elements (REEs) in these technologies. We attend to the geopolitical issues of sourcing these rare earth materials, as well as the environmental and health effects of extracting them from the earth through mining and smelting and disposing or recycling them at life’s end. Our goal is to begin unpacking the difficult choices that manufacturers (and governments) must think through as they endeavor to improve both the design of sustainable technologies and the production of materials used in these products.
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Article Case| December 31 2017
Mapping the Product Life Cycle: Rare Earth Elements in Electronics
Christine Meisner Rosen,
Case Studies in the Environment (2017) 1 (1): 1–9.
Susie Levy, Christine Meisner Rosen, Alastair Iles; Mapping the Product Life Cycle: Rare Earth Elements in Electronics. Case Studies in the Environment 31 December 2017; 1 (1): 1–9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/cse.2017.000265
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