A key to the prudent use of nonrenewable resources is to optimize recovery and recycling activities. The former is largely a function of political and societal initiatives, and these are vital. The latter is primarily technological and depends to a largely unappreciated degree on the scientific principles of the separation and recycling process as well as on the choices made by the product design engineer. Design choices fix the embodied energy of the product through the chosen material combinations and joining methods, which subsequently determine the ease with which this energy and the material content can be recovered via recycling of consumer goods. The designer is therefore integral to implementing the progress of closing the material cycle. Increasingly detailed and physically based models are now available to guide designs that will yield much enhanced rates of recovery and recycling of nonrenewable resources.
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