Our E-Waste Gold Mine

August 2, 2012

Computer Gold MinePhoto by: Mosman Council | Flickr.com

For many reasons, technology is a great thing. In today’s Internet Age, the world has become a much more interconnected place, with information about everything available to anyone who can hit a few keys. But there is one undervalued reason for computers being so beneficial, particularly during this time of economic distress: gold.

This elusive and intensely sought-after precious metal has been a source of strife over the last seven thousand years of human history. People have spent their entire lives as prospectors, listening intently for news of discoveries from every corner of the globe and travelling through hostile territories in search of the occasional tiny flake. But today, much of society has overlooked computers as a viable source for the treasured substance, a source that has been lying right under our noses for years.

Gold and Other Precious Metals in Technology

While it may be common knowledge that manufacturers utilize precious materials like gold in making high-tech contraptions, the actual amount that goes into production has been a bit vague. To that end, the United Nations University recently conducted some research to find out exactly how much gold we are putting into our computers, tablets, cellphones, etc., and the results were astonishing. Each year, nearly 9,000 tons of precious metals are used in building all kinds of electronics, and of that number, 320 tons are made up of gold.

Unfortunately, even with increasing e-waste regulations, used electronics continue to be discarded, ultimately making their way to landfills in developing countries. Of course, this is incredibly harmful for those countries’ environments, but it is also squandering valuable resources that could be used to rally the global economy. Awareness of the situation, spread by organizations like the United Nations University, can present financial advantages for many different parties

On a state and federal level, the hope is that these numbers will raise awareness. In this case, government officials will be moved to crack down on e-waste, especially among manufacturers, retailers, and large companies. Although we have seen the start of more stringent measures being implemented, what is being done so far isn’t nearly enough.

A Popular Resource

Individuals can benefit from this discovery as well. The Pew Research Center, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, released carefully honed data showing that 90% of America’s citizens own a computerized electronic device of some kind, whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet, mp3 player, video game console, or cellphone, and most own more than one. Since they don’t realize these machines are practically goldmines (literally), most people simply throw away their old electronics – which eventually end up in landfills.

Instead of tossing these valuable instruments, consumers have the option of trading in their computers and other electronics for cash. An expert could, of course, extract the prized materials and sell those to gold and silver traders, but mining precious metals from computers is extremely difficult. Refiners really are a necessary step, and luckily, most companies that buy gold, silver, and diamonds also purchase electronics directly from independent sellers before refining them.

We shouldn’t mourn the fact that so much precious metal has been wasted. Instead, use this information for good by controlling e-waste, protecting the earth, and improving the global economy in one fell swoop. Visit CJEnvironmental.com for all the information you need on selling your old electronics, gold, silver, and diamonds, and making a difference in the world.

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