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Resource recovery and remediation of highly alkaline residues : a political-industrial ecology approach to building a circular economy

Deutz, Pauline; Baxter, Helen; Gibbs, David; Mayes, William M.; Gomes, Helena I.


Helena Gomes

Helen Baxter

Helena I. Gomes


Highly alkaline industrial residues (e.g., steel slag, bauxite processing residue (red mud) and ash from coal combustion) have been identified as stocks of potentially valuable metals. Technological change has created demand for metals, such as vanadium and certain rare earth elements, in electronics associated with renewable energy generation and storage. Current raw material and circular economy policy initiatives in the EU and industrial ecology research all promote resource recovery from residues, with research so far primarily from an environmental science perspective. This paper begins to address the deficit of research into the governance of resource recovery from a novel situation where re-use involves extraction of a component from a bulk residue that itself represents a risk to the environment. Taking a political industrial ecology approach, we briefly present emerging techniques for recovery and consider their regulatory implications in the light of potential environmental impacts. The paper draws on EU and UK regulatory framework for these residues along with semi-structured interviews with industry and regulatory bodies. A complex picture emerges of entwined ownerships and responsibilities for residues, with past practice and policy having a lasting impact on current possibilities for resource recovery.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 1, 2017
Journal Geoforum
Print ISSN 0016-7185
Electronic ISSN 0016-7185
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 85
Pages 336-344
Keywords Industrial symbiosis, Vanadium, Political industrial ecology, Steel slag, Circular economy, Resource security
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Resource recovery and remediation of highly alkaline residues: A political-industrial ecology approach to building a circular economy; Journal Title: Geoforum; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


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Copyright Statement
© 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (

AM - Accepted Manuscript

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