The world is on track to produce 74 million metric tonnes a year of e-waste by 2030 so the disposal of redundant devices is a huge problem…but it’s also a golden opportunity.
Electronic devices like mobile phones, laptops, TVs and cameras are everywhere – for many they are essential to modern life. But this insatiable demand for digital devices is leading to a huge e-waste problem.
Recent figures show 53.6 million metric tonnes of electronic waste were discarded in a single year, and less than 20 per cent was recycled.
This waste contains precious metals like gold, copper, silver and platinum. Although many of these materials could potentially be recovered, most are sent to landfill. A staggering US$57 billion worth of precious metals are dumped or burned each year.
It follows that if the volume of precious metals recovered from recycling e-waste can be increased, the volume of precious metals that are extracted from the earth to produce these devices can be reduced. There are 100 times more gold in a tonne of mobile phones than in a tonne of gold ore, making recovery and reuse a sensible economic decision.
There is a golden opportunity to create a circular economy for electronics. Recycling high value resources from existing equipment creates reusable components for the manufacture of new devices, cutting the cost of feedstock and disposal at both ends of the supply chain.
The concept hinges on innovative solutions like Clean Earth Technologies’ breakthrough technology for harvesting valuable materials, such as gold and copper, from e-waste. The solution uses a benign, organic polymer, in place of toxic cyanide and strong acids, to extract high value metals.
Our goal is zero waste. Find out more about how we are developing the answer to e-waste.