The treasure hidden in our gadgets

Recovering metals from old electronics could save money and the environment, writes Catherine Early.

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China is expected to produce more e-waste than the United States or the European Union by 2030 (Image: Global E-Waste Monitor)
China is expected to produce more e-waste than the United States or the European Union by 2030 (Image: Global E-Waste Monitor)

Catherine Early | China Dialogue

Gold is the most valuable metal in a phone. One tonne of gold ore contains around 1-5 grams of pure gold – but a tonne of mobile phones contains upwards of 300 grams, explains Professor Jason Love. In fact, an estimated 7% of gold in circulation around the world is contained in the circuitry of electronic devices, he points out.

Love is head of inorganic chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. His focus is on using chemistry to recover valuable and toxic metals from old technology. The digital junk people throw away offers a huge and valuable resource if the metals can be recovered and recycled through what’s known as “urban mining”. This can also avoid the extraction of new materials.

The professor’s team is developing a new compound that can be used to separate gold from other elements in a mobile phone.

Read the full article here: The treasure hidden in our gadgets.