Before you think about throwing away that old cell phone or laptop, why not consider recycling it?
The UK government plans to use brand new cutting edge technology to recover gold, silver and precious metals from recycled electrical products.
The Royal Mint – whose job it is to make coins for the UK – has signed an agreement with Canadian start-up Excir to use the world’s first sustainable precious metals technology.
The government-owned parts maker hopes to use the technology – based on chemistry – at its South Wales site to recover precious metals from electronic waste, which is contained in the circuit boards of discarded electronic devices.
What is e-waste?
More than 50 million tonnes of e-waste – that is, waste of old electronic products – is produced around the world each year and it is hoped that this technology could help remedy this.
Less than 20% of electronic waste is currently recycled globally, with precious metals valued at around Â£ 41 billion largely thrown away.
Mountains of electronic waste are sent to landfill or sent abroad for treatment at high temperatures in foundries.
Experts estimate that up to 7% of the world’s gold can be contained in e-waste, with 100 times more gold in a ton of e-waste than in a ton of gold ore.
Gold ore is gold in its natural state mixed with other metals and minerals in the rock before it is separated.