E-waste has long been a major problem for developed countries. At least that is the official line. It never was – it was merely shipped to the third world, exotic destinations with plenty of cheap labour and few environmental safeguards.
Venture Beat believes things could be about to change, not because of altruism, but because e-waste is worth billions.
The Global e-Sustainability Initiative estimates that 320 tons of gold and 7,500 tons of silver is being used in electronics worldwide. According to Gold & Silver Buyers, the precious metal content of obsolete devices is up to 50 times higher than the ore in an average gold mine.
With some 50 million tons of electronic waste thrown out every year, the potential is staggering.
There are between 300 and 400 grams of gold in every single metric ton of electronic waste. It seems like there is a lot of potential in “urban mining” and some particularly rich vanes are mobile devices, mice and keyboards, and of course computers.
Mind you, it is not a tree-hugger’s pipe dream, either. The largest e-waste processing site, located in Guiyou, China, processes 1.5 million tons of e-waste each year, generating $75 million in revenue in the process.