Study proves that recovering copper, gold and other metals from electronic waste is cheaper than traditional mining. A practice which is called – Urban mining is becoming increasingly popular today where the study shows that it is 13 times cheaper than extracting metals from mines. In addition to cost savings, this practice is environmental friendly with less risk to human and environment.
Why is Urban mining attractive? For example, a typical cathode-ray tube TV encompasses almost a pound of copper and more than half a pound of aluminium and holds about 0.02 ounce of gold.
The electronic waste problem is gigantic in the world. More than 45 million tons of e-waste are produced every year and according to United Nations’ Global E-waste Monitor report, the number will be 50 million tons by 2018. Instead of disposing of these waste in landfills, development of a proper waste management programme can help in multiple ways.
With a huge amount of e-waste being generated every year, the recent research report published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Environmental Science & Technology, promises greater potential for improving waste disposal and less dependency of mining activities globally.
The researchers obtained data from eight recovering companies in China to calculate the cost of extracting copper and gold from e-waste. All the expenses incurred for urban mining were included in the calculation such as costs for waste collection, labour, energy, material, and transportation, as well as capital costs for the recyclers’ tools and assets. Based on the calculation urban mining was found to be 13 times cheaper.
Similar to this research, Dell one of the largest player in electronics initiated a programme last year where the company sold jewellery made of gold recovered from Dell’s global recycling programme.
Millions and tons of appliances across small towns and cities across the world are waiting to be recovered. It is estimated that in Australia around 23 million old phones, in Africa around 1 billion telephones are waiting to be recovered.
With advancements in e-waste management, urban mining is going to give classic mining a run for its money. In addition, urban mining will avoid a substantial number of malicious effects on human beings and the environment.
Image Source: stock