23 October 2012
RSC Chief Executive Dr Robert Parker presented Foreign Secretary William Hague with a unique tie-pin made of valuable materials from the components of discarded mobile phones today, at the British Embassy in Berlin.
The gift was presented to the Foreign Secretary at the launch of a joint report on resource scarcity by the RSC and the UK Science & Innovation Network, entitled Resources that Don't Cost the Earth.
The tie pin symbolises the importance of scarce materials in everyday products. It is an exhibition piece from a public engagement project involving a silversmith and materials scientists at Sheffield Hallam University, which aims to raise awareness of the origin and value of the elements used in electronics and other products.
At the report launch, William Hague underlined that secure and affordable access to important resources is an important basis for growth and prosperity in industrialised countries. He said that the UK would work with Germany and other international partners to promote secure access to resources and the removal of trade barriers, while ensuring an approach tailored to the concerns and needs of individual countries.
He welcomed the joint report, which was produced with input from experts and practitioners from across Germany, the UK and other European countries.
The report sets out the opportunities and challenges associated with using resources sustainably. It contains a number of detailed case studies to illustrate how businesses can overcome these challenges; for example, by using greater resource efficiency to boost competitiveness, by linking different value chains to turn waste into a valuable raw material, and by using innovative processes to enhance the output from recycling.
At the launch, Dr Parker spoke about the capacity of scientific research to enable transformative technologies, drawing on the example of breakthrough discoveries in catalysis by Professor Graham Hutchings - an eminent chemist at Cardiff University.
He said: "This year, Graham discovered a new catalyst made with relatively-abundant iron and copper that can transform methane, the main component of natural gas, into methanol - a vital molecular building block for pharmaceuticals, fertilisers and plastic.
"Working with partners in the US, he has opened the path to a clean, green reaction that is far more efficient than previous methods.
"Graham is a shining example of British scientific ingenuity, working with partners around the world to solve real problems. And there are many more like him in the science community, who are using cutting-edge science to tackle global challenges head-on."
He continued: "Materials security is a complex issue. Scientific breakthroughs and high-tech industry must go hand-in-hand with forward thinking policymaking at local and international levels to bring new developments to society for a wealthier, healthier world."