Recovery of Metals from E-Waste is Cheaper than from Mines
Researchers reveal that recovery of metals from e-waste is cheaper than from mines, according to a study conducted on April 4, 2018.
Wastes from electronics such as discarded televisions, computers, and mobile phones are found to be the fastest growing waste categories globally. This waste stream was a source for recyclers to collect usable parts from the electronics. Although this method is good from a sustainability point of view, the economic perspective of this method is still unclear. According to the researchers, metals such as gold and copper can be recovered from e-waste in a cheaper way, as compared to the recovery of metals from mines.
According to a report published by the United Nations’ Global E-waste Monitor, 50 million tons of e-waste is expected to be discarded by 2018, which will contain large amounts of metals in it. For instance, a cathode-ray tube TV contains almost a pound of copper, more than half a pound of aluminum, and around 0.02 ounces of gold. Data from eight recycling companies in China were obtained by researchers for calculating the cost required to extract metals from e-waste and this process is known as urban mining.
Costs for waste collection, labor, energy, material and transportation, and capital costs for the recyclers’ equipment and buildings were the major expenses involved in this process. These expenses are offset by government subsidies and by revenue from selling recovered materials and components. Therefore, researchers say that with these offsets, extracting metals from ores will be 13 times more expensive than urban mining.
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