10 Examples of Non-Renewable Resources

Updated on November 23, 2022
10 Examples of Non-Renewable Resources

Crude oil – an example of a non renewable resource

10 Examples of non-renewable resources are:

  1. Petroleum/crude oil
  2. Natural Gas
  3. Earth Minerals
  4. Coal
  5. Groundwater
  6. Land Surface/Soil
  7. Plastic
  8. Nuclear Energy
  9. Biomass Energy (in some cases)
  10. Metal Ores

The living and non-living resources that human society utilizes to function daily can be classified into renewable and non-renewable resources.

Non renewable definition

Renewable resources, also referred to as flow resources, are natural resources that can replenish to replace the portions that are depleted by consumption and usage.

The renewal process occurs through natural reproduction and other recurring processes. On the other hand, non-renewable resources, also referred to as finite resources, are resources that you cannot readily replace naturally fast enough to keep pace with their consumption.

Video – List of non renewable resources (10 Examples)


What Are Examples of Renewable and Non-renewable Resources?

10 examples of renewable resources:

  • Geothermal energy – is a renewable energy resource since heat is constantly produced inside the earth through the gradual decay of radioactive particles found in the earth’s core. (Heat pumps.)
  • Solar energysolar radiation provided by the sun is the most well-known renewable energy resource. Sunlight is one of the most important energy sources for life forms, including humans.
  • Wind energy – wind power is a readily available, clean, and free domestic renewable resource with less environmental effects than other energy sources.
  • Fresh Water is considered a renewable resource when usage, treatment, and release are carefully controlled.
  • Air – is a renewable resource because it is restored by natural means faster than humans and other organisms consume it.
  • Wood and plant-based renewables – wood, cotton, bioplastic, biogas, bio-oils, latex, and charcoal are renewable resources.
  • Fish and other wildlife – fish and other wildlife are renewable resources as long as active monitoring, protection, and conservation occur.
  • Agriculture and Livestock Products – agricultural, livestock, and poultry products, also known as biomass, including chicken, eggs, meats, food plants, are considered renewable resources because they can easily be replenished through the associated cultivation and rearing activities.
  • Soil – soil can be considered a renewable resource when plant cultivation is conducted to preserve and improve soil health and fertility in the long term. Soil can also be a non-renewable resource in some cases.
  • Wave power – as long as the moon orbits the Earth, the moon’s gravity will create waves that can be turned into electricity.

Table – 10 examples of non renewable resource that will disappear

Non Renewable Resource

How much is left?

When will it run out?

Natural gas

7124 trillion cubic feet (tcf)

40 years (2060)

Crude oil

1.65 trillion barrels

40 years (2060)


1000 trillion tons

500 years (2520)


1.1 trillion tons

70 years (2070)


14000 cubic kilometres

Shortages in 2030


10 cms

60 years (2060)


Not known (15billion tons used/year)

Not known – in short supply


304 trillion trees left

Not known


80 million tons fishes each year

30 years (2050)

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List of non renewable resources

1. Why is oil a nonrenewable resource?

1. Why is oil a nonrenewable resource?

All petroleum resources are non renewable

Petroleum oil, also known as crude oil, is top of the list of non renewable resource extracted in liquid form. Petroleum is a fossil fuel that takes millions of years to form naturally.

Fossil fuels form when sea animals and plants die, and the remains are buried under sand, silt, and mud.

Over a long period, high heat and underground pressure turn the remains into fossil fuels. As such, this resource cannot be replaced faster than humans consume it.

Crude oil is located between rocks or layers of the earth’s crust. Currently, there are large pockets of this non-renewable energy source underground worldwide.

This energy resource is retrieved by drilling vertical wells into the ground or ocean floors. The petroleum is pumped to the earth’s surface, taken to a refinery, and utilized to create various products, including diesel, gasoline, jet fuel, and propane. Petroleum is also part of the chemical composition of numerous plastics and synthetics.

It is considered that fossil-based energy resources such as petroleum oil will eventually become too expensive to harvest, and human society will have to rely on other energy resources. Since the conception of combustion engine technology, petroleum oil and other fossil fuels have been in continuous demand.

Today’s largely fossil-fuel based-economy is criticized for the lack of renewability. Oil reserves are being consumed faster than new oil fields are discovered.

2. Is natural gas renewable or not?

2. Is natural gas renewable or not?

Natural gas is a good example of a non renewable resource

Natural gas, also called fossil gas, is a naturally occurring non-renewable hydrocarbon gaseous resource located below the earth’s crust.

Natural gas consists primarily of methane. However, it may also contain other gases, including ethane, propane, butane, and minute amounts of carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and nitrogen.

Natural gas is odorless and colorless, so a sulfur-like odor is added for detection in case of leakage.

Since natural gas is a fossil fuel, it is formed when decomposing animal and plant layers are exposed to great pressure and heat under the earth’s surface for millions of years.

This non-renewable resource is found in deep underground rocks and near other hydrocarbon reservoirs such as coal beds. Natural gas is used as an energy source for electricity generation, cooking, and heating. It is also utilized as a vehicle fuel and chemical feedstock to produce plastics and other organic chemicals.

Before it is used as fuel, natural gas is processed to eliminate impurities such as water. Like crude oil, humans are consuming natural oil reserves faster than new gas deposits are discovered.

3. Will rare earth elements run out?

3. Will rare earth elements run out?

Minerals cannot be replaced – they take millions of years to form

Earth minerals are non-renewable solid chemical compounds with specific naturally occurring crystal structures and fairly well-defined chemical compositions.

Earth minerals are present in large amounts in the earth’s crust and include gemstones, salt, diamonds, clay, granite, quartz, slate, and gravel.

Humans can only extract earth minerals concentrated through natural geological processes such as pressure, heat, weathering, organic activity, and other processes sufficiently to be economically viable to mine.

Geological processes that form and lead to the concentration of earth minerals usually take tens of thousands to millions of years via plate tectonics, crustal recycling, and tectonic subsidence.

Earth mineral deposits that humans can extract economically viably are non-renewable in human time-frames. Some earth minerals are rare and more exhaustible than others. The minerals occur in very small concentrations.

The process necessary to separate the minerals from the natural rock where they are found is extremely challenging, requiring numerous extraction and purification phases. These minerals are highly sought after in certain industries, such as electronics.

4. Coal – Is coal renewable or nonrenewable?

4. Coal – Is coal renewable or nonrenewable?

Coal, like gas, is a good example of a non renewable resource

Coal is a valuable combustible black or brownish sedimentary rock burned to generate non-renewable energy.

Coal comprises mostly carbon, with variable amounts of hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen, and oxygen. This non-renewable energy resource is a fossil fuel formed when dead plant material decays into peat.

Over millions of years, high pressure and heat convert the dead plant material into coal. This process is referred to as carbonization. Large coal deposits come from former wetlands that populated the earth’s surface millions of years ago.

There are four types or ranks of coal- anthracite, lignite, bituminous, and sub-bituminous.  The rankings are based on the amount of carbon present in the coal, with anthracite possessing the highest concentration and lignite having the lowest. Coal is mainly used as a fuel.

In 2020, coal supplied more than a third of the world’s electricity and a quarter of the world’s main energy. Burning coal also produces valuable byproducts used to manufacture plastics, cement, bitumen, and other products. Coal is mined through underground mining and surface mining.

Because it takes millions of years to form, coal is categorized as a non-renewable energy source. Currently, there is a global initiative to phase out the use of coal due to its negative impact on health and the environment. The coal industry is already declining as people look to move to environmentally-friendly renewable energy sources.

5. Is groundwater a sustainable resource?

5. Is groundwater a sustainable resource?

The water cycle is a natural resource, but water is a non renewable in short supply

Water resources are multidimensional. Water can be both a renewable and non-renewable resource depending on the scenario. Groundwater is a very important resource worldwide, providing significant percentages of public water supply.

People in rural populations get most of their water supply from domestic groundwater sources. Groundwater bodies (deep aquifers) are considered non-renewable resources because they have a negligible replenish rate on the human time scale.

Groundwater resources are replenished by precipitation. However, this happens gradually at a rate much slower than groundwater consumption.

Natural groundwater reservoirs take many years to develop. Also, humans can only recover a part of groundwater found in the subsurface in an economically viable manner that doesn’t present adverse consequences. Constant pumping of groundwater worldwide leads to a major depletion of groundwater reservoirs.

This pumping can lead to low lake levels, reduced river flows, and reduced wetland discharges. This, in turn, can cause water supply shortages and affect aquatic habitats.

All these factors contribute to the non-sustainability and non-renewability status of groundwater. There are increasing efforts to manage groundwater sustainably.

6. Is soil a renewable or non-renewable resource?

6. Is soil a renewable or non-renewable resource?

Can soil be made renewable?

The concept of land surface or soil renewability is also multidimensional. Soil can be classified as a renewable and non-renewable resource depending on several factors and the scope of comparison.

Water covers more than 70 % of the earth’s surface. The remaining portion is the land surface and serves as the base for terrestrial life.

Human societies and their activities thread the health of the land surface or soil and cause enduring damage. This reduces the usability of the land surface significantly. In this regard, soil and land are non-renewable resources.

Soil has numerous vital functions beneficial to humans, animals, and plants. These soil functions can be categorized into four main groups. They include habitat, regulation, scientific, and economic functions.

Regulation functions include nutrient and water storage, pollutant filtration, and water and solute buffering. Habitat functions include providing a home to numerous microorganisms, animal and plant biodiversity. Plants use soil as an anchor to produce and sustain the earth’s biomass, which provides food for humans.

Scientific functions include storing information from the past. This archive is a vital data source for archaeologists and other researchers. Economic functions include producing various materials such as gravel, sand, clay, peat, and wood.

Human processes, including soil sealing, compaction, erosion, desertification, and non-renewable agriculture, can destroy soil fertility and viability. Soil fertility takes thousands of years to develop and thousands more to recover if damaged. These aspects contribute to the land surface being considered a non-renewable resource.

7. Is plastic a natural resource yes or no?

7. Is plastic a natural resource yes or no?

Plastiocs are a new additon to the group of none renewable resources

The consumer-driven society today necessitates the use of plastic to manufacture numerous products.

Plastic refers to various synthetic and semi-synthetic materials with polymers as their main component.

Plastic is a non-renewable resource since it is made from natural gas liquids, liquid petroleum gases (LPG), and natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

These fossil fuels are the most commonly utilized non-renewable energy source. However, plastic is recyclable, meaning it can be melted and remolded into other products. Plastic is adaptable and thus can be molded, pressed, or extruded into various solid object shapes.

Plastic adaptable nature plus other properties, including lightness, durability, flexibility, and production cost-efficiency, means this non-renewable resource has plenty of applications.

The applications include packaging materials, construction (doors, pipes, gutters), medical devices, textiles, consumer goods, electronics, transportation, and machine components. It’s worth noting that plant-based bioplastics are renewable resources.

8. Why is nuclear energy not renewable?

8. Why is nuclear energy not renewable?

Nuclear fission is non renewable – it’s also a dangerous resource

Nuclear power provides up to 14% of the world’s electricity and 6% of the world’s energy supply.

Nuclear fuels(isotopes)such as Uranium U-235 are rare in their natural state and are thus non-renewable even though small amounts go a long way.

For instance, one pound of Uranium can produce more energy than three million pounds of combusted coal. Nuclear fuels such as Uranium are located in certain rock formations.

These materials are mined for use as fission materials in slow-reaction nuclear power production plants. Nuclear fission reactors split atoms and release large amounts of energy from enriched Uranium’s nucleus.

Nuclear reactions produce heat that the water in the nuclear reactor absorbs. The water turns into steam and drives a turbine and generator to produce electricity.

Nuclear fission power has one major drawback, which is radioactive nuclear waste. Also, nuclear energy is challenging to harvest. The power plants are sophisticated and have complex operations, with many countries lacking the personal and resources to run reliable and safe nuclear energy programs.

9. Is biomass an example of renewable resources?

9. Is biomass an example of renewable resources?

Biomass is a very poor way to use a non renewable resource

Biomass energy is usually considered a renewable energy source. However, it can also be classified as a non-renewable resource in some cases.

Biomass energy leverages the energy naturally found in plants and plant material. This type of energy is heavily reliant on biomass feedstocks.

Biomass feedstocks refer to plants and plant materials that are processed and combusted to generate power. They can include crops such as soy, corn as well as wood.

Destructive agricultural practices where people don’t replant biomass feedstocks as fast as they consume them can render the biomass energy a non-renewable energy source.

10. Are metals renewable or nonrenewable?

10. Are metals renewable or nonrenewable?

Mining metals as a resource also pollutes the environment

All Metals are non-renewable resources. Metals are found in natural sediment rock ores in the earth’s crust. The earth has a finite amount of metal ores.

This finite nature becomes more apparent when you consider humans can only mine metal ores naturally concentrated by geological processes. These natural processes take millions of years.

Localized deposits of metal ores near the earth’s surface are non-renewable resources in human time-frames.

There is also an environmental and financial cost to extracting and refining metal ores into a viable metal product. The metal-making process involves ore identification, mining, crushing, grounding, separation, and refinement.

Infographic – 10 Examples of Non-Renewable Resources

Infographic – 10 Examples of Non-Renewable Resources

What are the top 5 non renewable resources?

There are many, many non-renewable resources but the main ones that come to mind are inevitably concerned with creating energy. Civilization is consuming more of everything of course, but energy tops the list of resources that are absolutely necessary for out modern way of living.

Importance of non renewable resources

  1. Oil has been at the top of the list of non-renewables for some decades now and some estimates forecast it will come to an end in about 45 years.
  2. Coal is still used by many countries as their primary source of fuel for power stations generating electricity. How much is left? About 64 years.
  3. Water for drinking accounts for about 3% of the planet’s total water and is continuously recycled within the Earth’s eco-system. It should be renewable, but climate changes, pollution and a growing population has now pushed potable water into the non-renewable category.
  4. Sand is the backbone of habitat growth for the human species. Building-sand is fast running out, leading to theft from beaches around the world and a lucrative black market trade in sharp sand for concrete.
  5. Soil is essential to grow food for the Earth’s growing population and the layer of top-soil is getting thinner and thinner. How long before it disappears? No one knows!

What are most non-renewable resources?

As energy is critical to all man-made processes on Earth, I’d have to say that the 3 non-renewable resources are most at risk are:
  1. Oil (both drilled and shale)
  2. Natural gas
  3. Coal

How to conserve non renewable resources

It’s not just the fact that we’re getting short of these resources, but using them is also pumping C02, toxic gases and other polluting particles into our atmosphere – these resources have a huge carbon footprint. The result is a warming planet and deteriorating health for many populations.

The solution is simple but not acceptable to mankind:

  1. Leave fossil fuels in the ground
  2. Don’t chop down any more trees
  3. Use less energy by changing the way we live

What are the 7 types of non renewable energy?

The main 7 kinds of non-renewable energy are:

  1. Hydrocarbons (fossil fuels) – anything that comes from the ground and is derived from ancient vegetation, such as coal.
  2. Wood – using wood for construction of heating. Trees takes decades to re-grow
  3. Biomass – used for heating and generating electricity. Basically, there isn’t enough of it, it creates C02 and it pollutes the atmosphere
  4. Gas – strictly speaking, natural gas is a fossil fuel
  5. Nuclear Energy – there is a finite amount of uranium and plutonium on the planet
  6. Tar sands – low quality and very expensive to extract (strictly speaking, is a fossil fuel)
  7. Shale oil – same as 6

What are the 7 sources of energy?

The 7 main sources of energy on the planet are a mixture of traditional and alternative sources:

  1. Oil, coal and gas (fossil fuels) – anything energy source derived from ancient vegetation
  2. Solar energy – solar power is fast becoming an important energy source, both for home use and commercial.
  3. Wind turbines – wind power is perhaps the cheapest per kWh out of all renewable energy sources
  4. Geothermal power – has great possibilities and is truly renewable and constant
  5. Nuclear – apart from the obvious dangers of using and storing fuel, nuclear continues to be a major energy resource.
  6. Hydroelectric – countries with abundant sources of running water rely on hydropower for electricity generation
  7. Biomass – once heralded as a valuable renewable resource, it’s fast dropping out of favor as it uses up valuable natural vegetation needed to sustain the Earth’s eco-system.

List of renewable and non renewable resources

List of 10 Non Renewable Resources

  1. Aluminum
  2. Uranium
  3. Coal
  4. Phosphate Rock
  5. Natural Gas
  6. Iron
  7. Peat
  8. Oil
  9. Rare earth elements
  10. Sand

10 Examples of Renewable Resources

  1. Water
  2. Bio-fuels
  3. Food plants
  4. Air
  5. Soil
  6. Geothermal Power
  7. Animals
  8. Solar Energy
  9. Biomass Energy
  10. Wind Energy

Non renewable resources for kids

Non-renewable resource Facts for Kids

natural resource – Students | Britannica Kids | Homework Help

Non-Renewable Energy – Knowledge Bank – Solar Schools

Key takeaways about non renewable resources

Nonrenewable resources are not that abundant on planet Earth: we just have to learn to use them properly. In general, organic material takes a long time to renew, so non-renewable energy sources based on organic matter will not last forever.

Nuclear power plants can help by not adding too much to global warming due to climate change, but their radioactive element makes nuclear plants less than ideal and even uranium deposits are in limited supply.

All non renewables from surface water, to oil sands, to diesel fuel are in danger, as are all fossil-fuel based raw materials. Important natural resources need to be conserved.

Towards a green future

In the United States wind farms and extensive use of solar panels is moving some way towards a greener world. Alternative energy sources are much cleaner than nonrenewable energy sources and every renewable source of energy should be explored. The types of resources most useful are geothermal energy, solar, wind and water turbines on a large scale.

U.S. energy consumption is increasing every year as the human population expands: petroleum products in the form of liquid fossil fuel and solid fossil fuel are in demand more than ever before. The greenhouse gas these non-renewable sources produce is dangerous for us all.

Geothermal heat shows great promise as a heating fuel source, and hydroelectric power is very clean, transferring the kinetic energy of water pressure to generate power. Here again, surface water is a finite resource, just like uranium ore, plant matter and in fact all living things.

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