Environmental benefits of circular economy approach to use of cobalt

Saeed Rahimpour Golroudbary*, Francisco Farfan Orozco, Alena Lohrmann, Andrzej Kraslawski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Cobalt is an important critical material and a constituent of a broad range of products such as batteries, electronics, superalloys, and hard metals. Effective recycling of cobalt is considered one of the most pivotal processes in alleviating its criticality. In this paper, using the dynamic modelling of material, energy, and water flows in cobalt supply chain, we show that by 2050 around 25% of the total demand for cobalt could be supplied by recycling. Our results indicate that, compared to the primary production of cobalt, its recycling might lead to a reduction of energy consumption by 46% associated with the global cobalt supply chain and the corresponding fall in the use of water by 40%. In addition, recycling of cobalt is estimated to mitigate around 59% of the total emissions of greenhouse gases and 98% of the total emissions of sulfur oxides. Finally, we present the regionally distributed projections of cobalt-related energy and water use from 2020 to 2050.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102568
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cobalt supply chain
  • Energy transition
  • water footprint
  • Environmental footprint


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