In 2019, a record 53.6 million metric tonnes of electronic waste was generated worldwide, up 21% in just 5 years according to a UN Report. The report added that e-waste discarded products with a battery or plug will soar to 74 metric tonnes by 2030.
Unfortunately, only 17.4% of 2019’s e-waste was collected and recycled. Recoverable of precious metals such as gold, silver, copper and platinum valued at US$57 billion are mostly burned or dumped in landfills.
Can the adoption of a circular economy concept alleviate this environmental problem? A circular economy, (also referred to as circularity) is an economic system devised to reduce waste and retain the continual use of resources. This system is opposed to a linear economy which operates on a ‘take’, ‘make’, dispose model of production.
The benefits of the circular economy are tremendous. They address unsustainable production and consumption patterns which are the main causes of environmental deterioration. These include reducing pressure on the environment, improving the security of the supply of raw materials, increasing competitiveness, stimulating, innovation, boosting economic growth and creating jobs.
Unfortunately, the awareness of the circular economy worldwide is not gaining acceptance at a rapid pace. Until such time, many e-waste products are still incinerated or thrown into landfills.
When e-waste is burned, toxic chemicals are released into the air, damaging the atmosphere. When they are disposed or dumped in landfills, their toxic chemicals seep into ground water, causing destruction to land and sea animals. This can also affect the health of e-waste scavengers in developing countries where the e-waste are dumped.
Tackling e-waste is a global challenge for all stakeholders – from government agencies, manufacturers, recycling companies, retailers to individuals.
The current practice of extracting the precious metals from e-waste is through the use of toxic chemicals such as cyanide and harsh acids. This practice is unsustainable and is harmful not only to the environment but also to mankind. Companies doing the recycling of e-waste must extract gold safely, sustainably and ethically.
Clean Earth Technologies has a non-toxic gold recovery reagent that extracts gold cleanly and sustainably without the use of cyanide and harsh acids. This process features a novel and safe way to rapidly leach the gold in high yield and then use an award winning, patented sulphur polymer to recover the gold.