Mining for precious metals like gold, silver, and copper is extremely costly. Not only does it require a huge amount of energy and have a devastating impact on the environment, it also puts human life at risk.
Still, these metals are what enable our precious smartphones and tablets to work so efficiently, so we have to get them from somewhere. But what if that somewhere was old gadgets we no longer want instead of deep within the Earth?
E-waste often contains more rare metals than mined ores. Studies show e-waste has 10 to 50 times the copper content than copper ore, and a phone contains 5 to 10 times the gold content than gold ore. Harvesting these precious metals from unwanted or broken gadgets is called urban mining, and it’s growing in popularity.
BlueOak Resources, a San Francisco start-up, recently broke ground on its first “urban mining refinery,” a facility that will extract precious materials from e-waste. If all goes as planned with the Arkansas location, BlueOak will built similar refineries across the country, each one processing e-waste from the surrounding area.
If properly processed, urban mining can be extremely profitable and good for the environment at the same time. We hope that device manufacturers like Apple and Dell need to do their part by making products that are easy to disassemble, separate, and recycle.
Article by Dave Kruchinin, CEO of eCycle Best.