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Where Trash Meets Treasure: E-Waste Recycling For Precious Metals

recycle cellphones

Electronic waste is growing globally at an alarming rate––about 40 million tons per year. But there could be a bright note to this mounting problem. E-waste contains rare and sought after precious metals which, when recovered, will not only help save the planet, it can actually help save lives.

Did you know that most of the world’s mined precious metals will end up, not in jewelry or other valuables, but in common household electronics?

In fact, according to a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report released in 2010, about 13 percent of palladium, 15 percent of cobalt, and 3 percent of silver and gold mined around the world each year goes into the manufacturing of electronic goods like mobile phones and personal computers.

And most of the mining used to extract these valuable metals is done in developing countries where children and adults alike toil for scant wages so we can enjoy iPads, cell phones and HDTVs. In traditional gold mining alone, an entire ton of ore must be moved to extract just one gram of gold.

But there is a solution to the increasing e-waste dilemma. E-cycling.

For instance, through a simpler and cheaper process than traditional mining, 1 gram of gold can be extracted from just 41 discarded cell phones. And the metals recovered can be reused almost indefinitely. E-cycling also recovers plastic and glass, which can be reused, making e-cycling even more commercially viable.

And while developed countries like the U.S. generally account for the majority of the electronics purchased worldwide, the U.S. is not the leader in e-waste disposal. Turns out, the U.S. and other countries routinely send e-waste right back to the very countries that supply the precious metals that create our electronics in the first place. Such waste can be a cause of toxic water pollution and other heath hazards, both to people and animals.

By taking your unwanted electronics to an authorized e-waste recycler, you not only keep e-waste out of landfills and encourage the recovery of precious metals that can help preserve our natural world, you might also be helping to make a child’s drinking water a little safer.

Find out how to e-cycle for precious metal recovery at eHow.com

About Sebrina Zerkus Smith

Professional writer, foodie. Lupus survivor. Loves pugs, wine, days at the beach and good movies. Takes recycling seriously, but not much else. Sebrina Zerkus Smith is a Southern Gal that has been scratching the writer’s itch for nearly 30 years. Her career began in Washington, D.C., in 1987, fresh out of collage and full of ideals. While plying her trade by day on congressional reps and senators, at night she burned the candle writing features for local newspapers and national magazines. She quickly realized that her southern upbringing gave her a unique and humorous voice that resonated with her readers. Eventually, she moved to Los Angeles where she pursued her dream of becoming a novelist and screenwriter. She paid her bills by working as a freelance writer for major marketing projects from studios such as CBS, NBC and Disney. Realizing that the future of writing lay with the internet, she was bitten by the blogging bug back in the 90’s, back before it was even called “blogging.” Then it was still just writing and trying to make a living. Through those early blogging years, Sebrina found passion and purpose. Over the past 10 years she has written articles for clients such as LightCues.com, MatterMore.com, Greenopolis, MacAddict, Yahoo, CNN and more. Today, Sebrina writes about a variety of topics including the Southern Experience, sustainability, clean water, food, gardening, sleep and her obsession with pugs. She is a regular paid contributor to WildOats.com as well as other entities. She now lives in Houston with her husband Jeff and their pug Newton. She hopes one day to complete her opus, Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed.


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