In-Use Stocks of Metals: Status and Implications

In-Use Stocks of Metals: Status and Implications
M. Gerst
Thomas E. Graedel
Journal Article
Environmental Science & Technology, Volume 42, Issue 19, Pages 7038-7045
The continued increase in the use of metals over the 20th
century has led to the phenomenon of a substantial shift in metal
stocks from the lithosphere to the anthroposphere. Such a
shift raises social, economic, and environmental issues that
cannot be addressed without quantifying the amount of stock
of ″metal capital″ utilized by society. Estimation of the inuse
stock of metals has occurred for at least 70 years, with
over70%of the publications occurring after the year 2000. Despite
the long history, this is the first critical review to consolidate
current findings, critique methods, and discuss future avenues
of research. Only aluminum, copper, iron, lead, and zinc
have been studied to any extent. Nonetheless, it is clear that
for the more-developed countries, the typical per capita in-use
metal stock is between 10 and 15 t (mostly iron). Comparison
of the per capita stocks in more-developed countries with those
in less-developed countries suggests that if the total world
population were to enjoy the same per capita metal stock levels
as the more-developed countries, using a similar suite of
technologies, the amount of global in-use metal stocks required
would be 3-9 times those existing at present.
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