Recycling Rare …

Recycling Rare Earth Metals: What Does China Know That We Don’t?

Posted by June Stoyer

What Are They & Why Do They Matter?

Rare earth metals are actually not rare in and of themselves but tend to be present with other compounds in very small quantities. Rare earth metals are used for a myriad of reasons including electronics, fuel cells, fiber optics, magnets, CRT’s and LCD’s, as well as their extensive use in green technology.

Most new plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles will use lithium-ion batteries (above) rather than the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in most hybrid electric vehicles.
(photo credit: /

Here is a more detailed list. (source:

  • Rechargeable batteries (in camcorders), cell phones, PDAs, laptop
  • Computers and other portable devices.
  • Wind turbines, drinking water filters, petrochemical catalysts,
  • Polishing powders, hydrogen storage, fluorescent lighting, flat panels,
  • Color televisions, glass, ceramics and automotive catalysts.
  • Fiberoptics, dental and surgical lasers, MRI systems, as medical
  • Contrast agents, in medical isotopes and in positron emission
  • Tomography scintillation detectors.
  • Magnetic refrigeration
  • Rechargeable batteries used in hybrid vehicles
  • Permanent magnets
  • Military application

China Raises Rare-Earth Export Quota

According to an article in the Wall St. Journal, by James T. Areddy and Chuin-Wei Yap

“China’s government eased its restrictions on rare-earth exports for the first time since 2005 in an apparent nod to a trade fight over Beijing’s tight global grip on production of the strategically important minerals.

But industry executives said the move will do little to shake China’s dominance of a market crucial to industries as diverse as oil refining, electric vehicles and ballistic missiles.

China’s Ministry of Commerce said Wednesday that it will permit 2.7% more volume of rare earth—30,996 metric tons—to leave the country this year than it did in 2011. The increase follows a number of tighter limits imposed …”

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

Americans continue to toss out materials that utilize rare earth metals. China profits from our waste by recycling them. They are refurbishes, repurposed and sold right back to the American market at a huge profit. At what point will Americans recognize the potential in this waste?

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

According to a research by Dr. Peter Dent from Electron Energy Corp., The total world market size for rare-earth magnetic materials was:

  • $9.1 billion in 2007 and is projected to grow to
  • $12 billion in 2011 and to
  • $21 billion by 2020

No Renewables? No Problem. Data Centers Can Clean Up Emissions Today

this guest post was written by Rob McKernan, a senior vice president, Americas region, of Schneider Electric‘s IT business.

Todd Woody Forbes Staff

In 2012, the volume of digital content will reach 2.7 zettabytes – a staggering amount of information, which could fill up 86 billion 32GB Apple iPads. Stacked, these iPads would build a mountain 35 times higher than Mount Fuji.

Tech giants Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon are in an intense battle for market share. But perhaps they should focus on the real issue determining competitive advantage: With no reliable, cheap renewable energy source in sight, how will they sustainably power massive data centers (using 2% of U.S. electricity) needed for this growing mountain of data, in the face of increased scrutiny on the “dirty” cloud?

Reducing greenhouse gases through composting and recycling

Reducing greenhouse gases through composting and recycling

The workgroup began by focusing on the life-cycle impacts of materials currently being disposed in
landfills and the GHG emissions reductions that are possible by diverting discarded materials from
landfills through recycling and composting. Although additional materials management approaches,
including reuse, remanufacturing, source reduction, material reduction/substitution,
environmentally preferable purchasing, upstream design and manufacturing changes, also promise
significant emissions reductions, the scope of this paper is limited to evaluating only recycling and
composting. Future Workgroup projects will focus more on the emissions reduction potential of these
other approaches.

Amazon in danger as Brazil moves forward with bill

Amazon in danger as Brazil moves forward with bill, critics say

The legislation, influenced by the agricultural lobby, would reduce the amount of vegetation that must be preserved and weaken environmental penalties.

A deforested area is seen near Novo Progresso in Brazil’s northern state of Para in 2009. (Andre Penner, Associated Press / June 2, 2011)

By Vincent Bevins, Los Angeles Times

SAO PAULO, Brazil — The Brazilian government is pressing forward with controversial legislation that critics say will lead to widespread destruction of the Amazon rain forest.

After months of heated discussion, President Dilma Rousseff on Monday presented a final version of the bill that was heavily influenced by the country’s powerful agricultural lobby.

The update to the country’s 1965 Forestry Code would reduce both the amount of vegetation landowners must preserve and the future penalties paid for those who currently flout environmental laws. After valuable wood is sold, much of the land in deforested areas ends up being cleared for grazing cattle and agriculture.

“The project approved in Congress is the fruit of a torturous legislative process, made to serve the interests of a small part of society that wants to increase the possibility of deforestation and give amnesty to those who have already cut it down illegally,” said Maria Cecilia Wey de Brito, head of the World Wildlife Fund in Brazil.

Rousseff suffered a surprise defeat in April at the hands of Congress’ ruralista voting bloc, which represents farming interests. The lawmakers managed to push through a version of the bill that rolled back environmental protections and gave amnesty to past violators.

Since then, she has faced widespread pressure from those opposed to the changes — scientists, public figures, celebrities, as well as business leaders and politicians — to veto the bill. However, facing long odds of winning approval for tougher environmental legislation in Congress, she announced Friday only a partial veto, leaving it much more lenient than the laws currently in place.

Though Rousseff enjoys widespread support among Brazilians, her party controls only 15% of the seats in a Congress divided between more than 20 parties. Rousseff often has difficulty corralling a coalition to support her positions and may not have been able to hold back revisions to the forestry law any more than she did, analysts say.

“In environmental terms, the law should have been vetoed completely,” Luiz Antonio Martinelli, agronomist at the University of Sao Paulo, told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper. “But we know that would be very difficult politically.”

Over the weekend, activists from Greenpeace blocked a shipment of pig iron used by the U.S. steel industry from leaving a port, saying its production relied on illegal deforestation and slave labor. Q’orianka Kilcher, the American actress who played Pocahontas in the 2005 film “The New World,” participated last week by climbing the anchor chain of a cargo ship to stop it from docking. The protest was meant raise awareness of the issue outside of Brazil, which will host the United Nations‘ “Rio+20” environmental conference next month.

For decades the Amazon rain forest, the world’s largest, has been shrinking steadily. The forest is so vast that the Brazilian government monitors the rate of deforestation using satellite imagery.

The destruction had slowed in the last decade under tougher government enforcement, but at the same time the country has lived through an economic boom fueled largely by selling commodities. The producers of products that rely on cleared land, such as soybeans and beef, have increased the country’s monetary wealth and become politically more powerful.

Environmentalists fear the new bill those interest groups helped shape could bring Brazil back to the bad old days of rapid clearing.

The government insists that the new bill, which is likely to pass, does not grant full amnesty to those who broke previous rules. But many who ignored them will have little reason to regret it.

This month, activists and journalists took a small plane over what used to be the forest in the northeastern state of Maranhao, snapping pictures of widespread illegal logging in the few remaining patches of forest in the region.

Amnesty means that “the small percentage of landowners that actually obeyed the law will end up being the clowns of history,” said Tatiana Carvalho of Greenpeace Brazil. “Everyone else will get the message that they can continue on chopping down without fear.”

Bevins is a special correspondent.

Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times

Solar win for Los Angeles, CA

This was a huge week for solar energy in LA. After over two years of research and outreach on the part of the Los Angeles Business Council and our partners, the Los Angeles City Council cleared the way for the launch of an innovative rooftop solar-energy program Tuesday morning, unanimously approving a measure to allow the Department of Water and Power (DWP) to move forward with the groundbreaking CLEAN LA Solar program!

LA City Council votes unanimously to pass the CLEAN LA Solar Program after DWP  General Manager Ron Nichols (center right) answers questions from Councilmembers.

The CLEAN LA Solar program will allow local property owners to sell solar power generated from rooftops and parking lots back to the DWP, using a mechanism called a feed-in tariff, or FiT. Los Angeles will be the largest city in the nation to adopt such a program, which will supply renewable energy at a reasonable cost while spurring private investment, creating high-quality jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and helping the state and city meet renewable power requirements.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa helped set the CLEAN LA Solar plan in motion in 2008, when he ambitiously called for a 150-megawatt FiT program to be created in Los Angeles. The LABC has been the leading advocate for the CLEAN LA Solar plan since then. Research conducted by the LABC and the LABC Institute has demonstrated that enacting the 150 MW CLEAN LA Solar program will create 4,500 jobs and $500 million in economic activity by 2016. Recognizing this tremendous potential, a broad coalition of businesses, environmental groups, labor organizations and other groups have joined the LABC to support the plan.

The ordinance approved this week authorizes Ron Nichols, DWP’s General Manager, to move forward with a solar FiT of up to 150 megawatts without returning to the City Council to approve various contracts or agreements. The measure also provides a streamlined FiT application process and lowers the program’s administrative costs.

DWP will immediately move forward on a 10-megawatt demonstration project. The first 75 megawatts of the program are expected to come on line this year as well, with an additional 75 megawatts expected by 2016 (to take advantage of the federal tax credits set expire). A full 150-megawatt FiT program would power the equivalent of 34,000 LA homes.

We’re looking forward to co-hosting workshops with DWP on the solar program on the week of April 16.  Please contact Michelle Garakian at if you are interested in participating.

LABC also has advocated to double the LADWP’s Energy Efficiency (EE) and we have hosted workshops in partnership with the DWP providing information on what a successful energy efficiency program would look like. We are happy to report that the proposed EE budget has been increased from $50 to $88 million per year!

Most importantly, we would like to thank all of our partners who have helped make the CLEAN LA Solar program a reality today!

This happened because a group of participants who often have disparate interests, unified in an unusual coalition and determined that the CLEAN LA Solar program was important for this city. Without the leadership of our Mayor, City Council, DWP GM Ron Nichols and his staff, researchers at UCLA and USC, the business community and our coalition, this program wouldn’t exist. Of course, to make sure this program is implemented correctly and to the level we desire, it will take continued diligence.


Mary Leslie, LABC President

Jacob Lipa, LABC Chairman

Brad Cox, LABC Institute Chairman