Electronic Devices a Rich Source of Precious Metals for Recyclers
A rich source of gold is in your sock drawer or around the house. It comes in the form of end-of-life electronic devices that are being generated in escalating numbers each and every year.
The Importance of Electronics Recycling and Precious Metal Recovery
Electronics recycling is critical in diverting solid waste and supporting zero landfill initiatives. Also highly significant, electronics recycling helps eliminate toxic scrap. While it constitutes a minority of solid waste, it represents up to 70% of toxic waste.
In the U.S., approximately 4.4 million tons of end-of-life and used electronic products are recycled annually. It provides a much richer resource than the extraction of virgin material. In fact, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries states that as much gold can be extracted from one metric ton of old computers as can be generated from 17 tons of ore.
This e-waste is a particularly rich source of precious metals – with concentrations 40 to 50 times more abundant than naturally occurring deposits. There are over 320 tons of gold and greater than 7,500 tons of silver used each year to make new electronic products around the world.
As a result, there are more than $21 billion in precious metals inventoried in these devices – $16 billion worth of gold and $5 billion worth of silver, until a time when they can be recycled. The carbon footprint of both metals and plastics recovered through recycling is much smaller than for the production of the same materials from virgin sources.