What are some rare substances

Rare technical metals

Rare technical metals, which also include “rare earths” such as neodymium, lanthanum, europium or thulium, are indispensable for the manufacture of magnets, motors, monitors and other electrical engineering and electronics applications. Overall, the rare metals are important for all key technologies. Due to the rapid development, however, it is difficult to predict which substances will play which role in the future.

Production pollutes the environment

In order to extract a few grams of the high-tech metals, mining companies mine tons of rock. Chemicals are often used to extract the metals from it. The waters in the vicinity of mines are therefore usually heavily polluted. From a sustainability perspective, the focus is on reducing the environmental impact of raw material extraction.

Federal government's ability to influence

No rare technical metals are extracted in Switzerland. That is why the federal government has little influence on the type of raw material extraction and its ecological impact. International agreements, the development of standards and certificates or technical cooperation in dismantling and recycling would be possible.

The Federal Council, on the other hand, can determine what happens to products that contain technical metals at the end of their life. For example, within the framework of an ordinance, he can demand that certain metals must be recovered from the waste. This can help to increase the availability of raw materials and to avoid the environmental pollution associated with new production.

In the area of ​​technology funding, funds were given to develop technical processes for efficient recovery.

The FOEN is active

The FOEN is investigating to what extent it makes economic and ecological sense to recover rare technical metals from electronic components in Switzerland. There are a few Studies on potentials and possibilities for electrical and electronic devices and car electronics.

The regulation on the return, taking back and disposal of electrical and electronic equipment (VREG, of January 14, 1998) in revision. In this context, a specification for the recycling of rare technical metals is being examined.