With the worldwide use of consumer electronics on the rise, the amount of waste generated as these products fail and break down over time is only going to increase. By the end of this year globally, humankind will have generated an estimated 50 million tons of e-waste and will be set to increase that 5% on the year for the foreseeable future.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
A lot of companies and individuals around the world have found that there is value to be found in e-waste. A lot of the circuit boards and componentry that make up most modern consumer electronics contain precious metals like gold, aluminium, copper, and palladium which can be melted down and used again from the waste.
In some cases, this is can be more economical and less damaging for the environment than mining these metals from the ground. For example, for a typical gold mine will yield around 1 to 4g of gold per tonne of rock mined. With the right kind of printed circuit board, you can be getting 900g of gold per tonne.