Jeff Starck, senior editor at the Royal Mint, reports this week that it is developing new technology that will allow it to recover precious metals from electronic devices like mobile phones and laptops.
If it is successful, this effort will solve the massive waste disposal problem that has only gotten worse with increasing use of electronic devices. The Royal Mint cites statistics that show more than 50,000,000 tonnes of electronic waste are produced each year worldwide. This is equivalent to 350 cruise ships, the size of Queen Mary 2. This will almost double the tonnage of electronic waste in a decade if nothing is done.
The Royal Mint states that less than 20% of electronic waste worldwide is being recycled. This means that most of the highly-valued metals, such as gold, silver and palladium (which is estimated at US$57 billion) are discarded rather than being recycled.
The price of producing the precious metals in the medals and coins we collect is high. Mining gold, silver and platinum, as well as other coinage metals, can have a devastating impact on the environment. Although the environmental damage caused by mining may not be offset, the conversion of precious metals to usable forms could provide a growing alternative and reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills.
This seems like a great deal for both the hobby and the environment.