At the opening of the plenary to this workshop, the concept of sustainable development was defined as that forwarded by the Brundtland Commission. However, on closer inspection, it occurred to our group that the definition of sustainable development depends upon ones perspective and specifically, ones place in society. The group encountered a major conundrum regarding the three pillars of sustainable development: social, economic and environmental. It appeared to the group that, while the population of a developed economy may place its principal emphasis on the environment, the societies of developing economies tend to place a greater emphasis on the social and economic pillars, and the basics of human existence. Based on this dichotomy, the group concluded that, while possible, it will take time for the production and use of non-ferrous metals to demonstrate a global compatibility with the Brundtland definition of sustainable development. However, the group were able to identify and address several benefits and challenges towards achieving greater sustainability.
NFMs brought benefits to society on a daily basis, being used in a wide range of labour saving devices, and consumer desirables, housing and construction, transport, energy production, health and safety and packaging. NFMs also enabled other technologies such as telecommunications, I.T. and the production and use of electricity. These uses created jobs and wealth, whilst some NFMs were essential and elements required by living organisms. Their persistence made them recyclable, which promoted energy saving whilst often subsiding the recycling of less valuable materials in products.
Challenges arose from the production of NFMs, specifically the need to pass on the benefits accruing from mining for the promotion of sustainable communities. The rights of these communities also had to be acknowledged, especially their right to reject mining projects. Recycling posed challenges of efficiency and ensuring adequate standards of practice. Use of NFMs implied the need to ensure appropriate dissemination of the wealth thereby created, together with a requirement for extended producer responsibility. Improving the image of NFMs was also a challenge, implying in turn a sound scientific approach coupled to an open and extensive database. The benefits of NFMs and industry's commitment to environmental conservation also needed to be emphasised. The need to move from a hazard to a risk-based regulatory approach was strongly felt.
Recommendations of the Blue Group
This communication should be as open as possible, and include all stakeholders be they industry, government, communities, academics, educators or NGOs. Open communication is the foundation for credibility and the development of trust.
4 The Group recognised that there were significant deficiencies in data relating to secondary metals and the sustainability of Non-Ferrous Metals. Work needed to be undertaken to quantify flows of recycled materials, the efficiency of current technologies and to improve sources of data from industry groups- The Blue Group felt that the Study Groups should play a role in this process. There were existing data, but often these were not shared across industry. The Group therefore recommended that such data be shared, gaps be exposed and that common analytical tools and definitions should be adopted.