With consumerism at an all time high, it is no surprise the volume of e-waste our society is generating is also on the rise. What is most astounding is the number of precious metals that continue to be lost as a result of our inability to effectively recycle our e-waste and extract those valuable materials. Did you know e-waste has a very rich concentration of certain precious metals? In fact, e-waste is 40-50 times richer than natural deposits. Extracting such metals through non-toxic means can prevent e-waste toxins from building up in landfills and seeping into the soil and water supply. The following infographic gives a more in-depth look at the current problem and potential solution proper urban mining can provide.
Scientists from the National Metallurgical Society in Jamshedpur, India report the successful development of an extraction method that can selectively pull gold from discarded cell phones, medical equipment, computer and other devices with minimal impact to the environment. A recent San Francisco start-up has just announced it has broken ground on its first “urban mining refinery” which will be located in Arkansas. The new refinery is expected to start processing electronic waste at a rate of 15 million pounds per year and increase from there. The proper use of domestic urban mining could prove extremely beneficial. So, before you toss that old computer or get rid of your cell phone, you might want to opt for a more environmentally-friendly disposal and recycling method.
Phones image by David Ohmer via Flickr Creative Commons license.