Collections Systems

Collecting ‘used metals’ contained in end-of-life products, such scrap metal, mobile phones, hand held batteries, computers and TVs, is a critical step in the pathway towards recycling. However, in models for material flows for recycling, collection is often depicted as a simple black box with little attempt to elaborate on factors that influence collection rates and quantities. Many factors (geographical, economic, social, regulatory) can influence the capacity of various actors to collect resources containing used metals, and these are likely to differ for different product types and for different actors.

20140725_125356Our appraisal of existing collection systems involves:

  • characterising the diversity of types of actors directly or indirectly involved in collecting and reprocessing scrap metal and e-waste – these include commercial businesses, social enterprises, government regulators and industry associations
  • identifying the barriers and incentives that affect the involvement and operations of different types of actors
  • identifying the factors that most strongly influence the effectiveness of collection systems
  • estimating the current stocks of metals by building type, and appraising how change in how buildings are constructed may alter both the use of metals in buildings and the capacity for recovering these resources in the future.

Understanding the landscape of organisations involved in the collection of used metals and associated products can then inform new initiatives and policies to improve the effectiveness of existing collection systems.

Academic Publications

Diverse economies of urban mining in Australia

Lane, Ruth. 2015. Environment and Planning D: Online Forum.

  • This article focusses on characterizing the range of actors and activities involved in ‘urban mining’, using the case study of used electronics in Australia
  • Profit-driven motives cannot explain the dynamics of the entire supply chain – Gibson-Graham’s ‘diverse economies’ framework can provide a broad conceptualization of the economy that sheds more light on these dynamics
  • Specifically, the framework draws attention to the diversity of valuing practices within these commodity chains, and offers insights into linkages between practices operating at different scales

Understanding the Dynamic Character of Value in Recycling Metals from Australia

Lane, Ruth. 2014. Resources. 3(2), 416-431.
  • This article reviews current understandings of value in Industrial Ecology (IE), especially the tension between materials and economic efficiency, as they apply to metals recycling in Australia
  • Different conceptual framings of value, as employed by a range of actors and organizations, are explored
  • These understandings need to be expanded to include valuing approaches that manifest across different spatial scales

An Analysis of Regulatory Strategies for Recycling and Re-Use of Metals in Australia

Gumley, Wayne. 2014. Resources, 3(2), 395-415.
  • This article considers regulatory strategies that promote more efficient use of materials in Australia, focussing on the regulatory framework applicable to various phases in the life cycle of metals
  • The changing roles of government and business operators within global distribution networks are discussed
  • The prevailing political agenda favouring deregulation and reduced taxation may be a barrier to new styles of regulation and more effective use of taxation powers



Other Publications


Dr Ruth Lane                                                                                           

Mr Wayne Gumley