You might not think it, but the trash cans in our cities are veritable gold mines. Many of the things we throw away, such as old household appliances, are still full of scarce metals and other valuable materials. With 'Urban Mining' we extract these raw materials not from the ground or nature, but from the city (Urban): our new goldmine.
Fastest growing waste stream in the world
From the vacuum cleaner in 1902 to the microwave in 1955, the first electrical appliances astonished the world. Today, nothing surprises us anymore. We use all kinds of electronic devices every day and find it quite normal to keep buying new ones. Not surprisingly, electronic waste is currently the fastest growing waste stream in the world. And yet there is still a lot of value hidden in these devices. Think of raw materials such as copper, lead, nickel, zinc, silver, gold and platinum.
Instead of continually extracting these raw materials from the ground and exhausting natural resources, we can very efficiently recover them from our own discarded electronic devices. For example, smartphones are packed with silver and gold. To give you an idea: from 8.5 tons of raw ore we can extract up to 42 grams of gold, from 8.5 tons of electronic waste up to 2 kilograms.
“In the Netherlands alone, some 27 million euros worth of gold is thrown away every year.”
Urban Mining more environmentally friendly
Besides the fact that we recycle our materials well with Urban Mining, there is also an important environmental aspect to it. Extracting silver and gold from electronic waste is much more environmentally friendly than traditional mining. The social impact is also a lot smaller. Deforestation, dumping of chemical mining waste, exploitation and child labor are the most normal thing in the world in the gold industry. You can read more about this in this blog we wrote a while ago on this topic.
In short, Urban Mining and recycling our electronic waste is an absolute must in a circular economy. So don't just throw your old devices in the garbage, but bring them to a special collection point in your area. This way we can extract the valuable materials and nothing goes to waste.