Written evidence submitted by the Royal
Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) (SIM 22)|
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
is the leading organisation of its kind in the world for professionals
in property, construction, land and related environmental issues.
As an independent and chartered organisation, RICS regulates and
maintains the professional standards of over 91,000 qualified
members (FRICS, MRICS and AssocRICS) and over 50,000 trainee and
student members. It regulates and promotes the work of these property
professionals throughout 146 countries and is governed by a Royal
Charter approved by Parliament which requires it to act in the
RICS is grateful to the Committee for agreeing to
consider its written evidence at this late stage. Given the time
constraints, the evidence set out below is brief, but RICS would
be happy to expand.
RICS maintains that while Rare Earth Elements
are being discarded from obsolete technologies virgin material
should not be harvested. RICS supports a comprehensive recycling
programme to meet demand and safeguard the future of renewable
- Many of the technologies involved in the green
schemes encouraged by Government depend on rare earth metals.
- Rare earth metals may become more difficult to
obtain as the country that dominates the market, China, is introducing
a policy of restricting production and exports via a system of
tariffs and quotas.
- Scarcity of resources is one problem, the association
of mining with environmental degradation is another limiting factor.
- Saving the planet through alternative green economies
and technologies calls for more access to rare earth metals which
in turn could mean more damage to the landscape, more environmental
degradation and more loss of wildlife habitats.
- Evidence from the UN suggests that recycling
rare earth metals is twice as energy efficient as extracting metals
from virgin ores (and in some circumstances ten times more efficient).
It may also go some way to keep metal prices down and generate
- Abundant quantities of rare earth metals exist
"above ground" in the form of obsolete consumer technology,
with an estimated 30 million computers and laptops containing
these metals currently lying unused in the UK.
- RICS maintains that there is an opportunity to
harvest rare earth metals present in the Waste Electrical and
Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE). All items under the Directive
could be assessed for the presence of these metals and where present
should be recovered and returned to the production process. This
would require stricter enforcement of the Directive.
- Efficient recovery and re-use of rare earth metals
needs to be promoted particularly as the metals are used as a
foundation material of most renewable energy technologies.
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
28 February 2011