This content was archived on 2 Mar 2013.

Why it matters

Forecasts say the world’s population will reach nine billion by 2050.

We’re consuming more resources than ever – between 45-60 billion tonnes of raw materials are extracted every year.

If we carrying on growing at the same rate, this figure could triple by 2050.

Lots of products that have become part of our every-day lives (such as TVs, cars, computers, glass and pharmaceuticals) depend on materials like rare earth elements.  These are becoming harder to source.  And finding good alternatives for these materials often isn’t easy.

The UK has no virgin stocks of these materials and like the rest of Europe, we’re heavily reliant on China for supplies (China supplies a whopping 97% of world demand).