Metals Found in Household E-Waste

Did you know that electronic devices can be packed with valuable metals. Additionally, nearly every electronic device contains gold, platinum, silver, palladium, and many other valuable metals. Moreover, one metric ton of electronic or e-waste generates up to 8-16 ounces of gold and gold is one of the most precious metals available.

Gold is a popular precious metal that is used in electronics because of its ability to conduct electricity. Even though only minimal amounts of these valuable metals are found on each device, the phones dumped in the Unites States alone are worth of thousands of dollars in gold and silver every year. The safety of our environment is not the only reason to recycle now. Recycling gold also earns you money and can save the environment too.

Metal Composition of General in E-Waste

The prospect of recycling is beginning to be appreciated and embraced by more and more people, so many have decided a to turn it into a lucrative business. Places like North America, India, and Europe invest a lot in the recycling of electronic waste. While harvesting gold is often the primary objective, the amount of copper and lead accumulated from e-waste also adds up, and can be very lucrative too.

The Environment Protection Agency lists the quantities of precious metals that are often extracted from electronic waste. For every one million electronic devices recycled each year approximately 33 pounds of palladium and 35,274 pounds of copper can be recycled. Additionally, 772 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold can be repurposed and reused. These amounts signal the urgent need for recycling e-waste.

Computer/Notebooks

Your dusty old computer contains a wide array of valuable metals and 99 percent of it is recyclable. Circuit boards are made of copper and gold. Copper and gold are commonly used in most electronic devices due to their ability to conduct electricity. A circuit board consists of 70 percent copper, 4 percent iron and 0.03 percent gold. A notebook has gold in the contacts, microchips, and bonding wires. Silver can be used in solder and palladium can be used in capacitors.

TV/LCD/LED

The circuit board of flatscreens have valuable metals both in the components and in the solder. LCD and LED monitors have the highest concentration of silver, followed by gold. LCD TVs typically have 580 mg of silver and 140 mg of gold. The older generation television sets are made of 3 percent copper, 11 percent steel, 1 percent Ferrite, and 8 percent other metals.

Mobile Phones/Smartphones

More smartphones have replaced the regular mobile phones. Smartphones have relatively higher concentration of valuable metals. The batteries are made of copper, lithium, and other valuable metals. A typical mobile phone will have 250 mg of silver, while a smartphone has at least 305 mg of silver. A typical mobile phone will have 24 mg gold, while a smartphone has 30 mg. Palladium is 9 mg and 11 mg, respectively. This is an important driving force to recycle smartphones.

What can we do?

There are plenty of ways we can reduce this burden on the environment. We can begin by minimizing waste and saving precious resources by following the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle.

The first step is to reduce and be an environmentally-responsible consumer. Try to resist the latest electronic gadgets as hard as it may be. Choose an upgrade (rather than replace) for computers and other electronic equipment wherever possible. Opt for durable products and avoid disposable products.

Reuse your old gadgets until they cannot be used any longer. Look for places that offer competitive repair prices. Try to sell your appliances through garage sales or at second-hand outlets. Put your appliances on online. Make sure you describe your item exactly (working or not working). Look for an organization that accepts unwanted computer equipment and refurbishes it for use by schools and charities. Be sure to ask them what their recycling method is.

Reusing e-waste is a bonus for the environment and will help out people in the community. By donating used electronics, schools, non-profit organizations, and lower-income families can get used equipment that they otherwise would not be able to afford.

It is important to exercise caution when disposing of e-waste. Remember, that it cannot be disposed along with other household waste. Electronic waste must be segregated and sold or donated depending on the condition of the device.