AQA GCSE Chemistry

Revision Notes

10.1.1 Resources & Sustainability

Natural Resources

  • Natural resources are all around us and provide us with the materials we need for shelter, food, warmth and transport
  • These resources can be:
    • Living: plants and animals
    • Non-living: Minerals, fossil fuels, water and air
  • Some resources can be replaced by synthetic products and others cannot
  • Chemistry plays an important role in the development of new materials through sustainable processes that enable the need of the current generation to be met without compromising the availability of natural resources for future generations
  • Two examples of this are rubber and fertilisers
  • Rubber which is extracted from the sap of trees (called latex) is an example of a natural product that can be replaced by a synthetic one
  • The replacement material for rubber are polymers which have been developed to specifically replace the rubber in many products
  • In some areas the appliance of scientific advancement has also allowed us to maximise the production of natural products
  • The use of fertilisers to enhance crop yield is an example of this

Plants are natural resources that provide materials for food, shelter and clothing

Renewable & Non-renewable Resources

  • Natural resources can be classified as either renewable or non-renewable (finite)
  • Renewable resources is those resources which can be replenished or replaced in a finite time in a human timescale
  • Timber is an example of a renewable resource as trees and forests can be replanted after the wood has been harvested, although they do take years to replenish
  • Finite or non-renewable resources are those that don’t reform quickly enough or don’t reform at all
  • Examples include minerals from the Earth’s crust and metal ores
  • After extraction, many resources require further processing to make the desired products
  • These processes require energy and make the extraction process less sustainable
  • Examples include the reduction of metals from ores and the fractional distillation of crude oil
  • The extraction of non-renewable resources carries risks
  • The Earth’s natural resources are being depleted and large amounts of energy are being consumed in the process of extraction

Building materials such as limestone can often be non-renewable, but recycling and re-using materials ensures that buildings of the future are constructed in a sustainable way and reduce the need to further exploit finite mineral resources

Exam Tip

Non-renewable resources are the same as finite resources and both terms are interchangeable.

Author: Francesca

Fran has taught A level Chemistry in the UK for over 10 years. As head of science, she used her passion for education to drive improvement for staff and students, supporting them to achieve their full potential. Fran has also co-written science textbooks and worked as an examiner for UK exam boards.
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