Do you have a drawer at home full of old telephones, broken laptops and chargers of unknown origin? They can be more valuable than you think.
New research has found that UK households store an estimated 527 million unwanted electrical appliances.
That’s the equivalent of 20 discarded devices per home, with cell phones being the most hoarded piece of technology.
However, according to Currys, this e-waste contains a wealth of precious metals, including 95 million tons of gold, silver and palladium.
More of these metals are now found in unwanted gadgets than in natural ores in the ground.
For International E-Waste Day on Friday, the electrical retailer wants to encourage Brits to recycle and put these valuable materials back into circulation.
New research has found that UK households store an estimated 527 million unwanted electrical appliances. That’s the equivalent of 20 discarded devices per home, with cell phones being the most hoarded piece of technology (stock image)
The most hoarded electrical item in the country is the cell phone, and the average contains about 30 different elements. There is 100 times more gold in a ton of mobile phones than in a ton of gold ore (stock image)
HOW MUCH PRECIOUS METAL IS IN YOUR SMARTPHONE?
- Aluminum – 25g
- Copper – 15g
- Silver – 0.34g
- Gold – 0.034g
- Palladium – 0.015g
Moira Thomas, Director of Group Sustainability at Currys, said: ‘There are millions of tons of tech treasures in homes across the country, so we’re encouraging people to hand it over, not hoard it.’
In 2019, the UN estimated that more than 22 million tons of small e-waste was produced worldwide, and that number is expected to rise to 29 million tons by 2030.
The total amount of e-waste produced worldwide is expected to increase to 75 million tons in the same year.
Currys claims that more than £850 million could be saved from these electrical products each year – including enough gold to make more than 850,000 rings.
Up to 60 different elements from the periodic table can be found in complex electronics.
These include electric toothbrushes, toasters and cameras, which make up a significant proportion of the 8 percent of all e-waste thrown in the trash.
E-waste materials and components can be used to repair appliances or manufacture new ones, but are lost forever when sent to landfill or incinerated.
Last year, however, only a third of British adults recycled their unwanted electrical appliances.
In 2019, the UN estimated that more than 22 million tons of small e-waste was produced worldwide, and this is expected to increase to 29 million tons by 2030. The total amount of e-waste produced worldwide is expected to increase over the same period. also increase to 75 million tons year (stock image)
HOW MUCH GOLD IS IN YOUR GADGETS?
- Desktop computer – 0.2 g
- Mobile phone – 0.034 g
- Laptop computer – 0.006 g
The most hoarded electrical item in the country is the cell phone, and the average contains about 30 different elements.
There is 100 times more gold in a ton of mobile phones than in a ton of gold ore.
Research of Recycle your electrical appliances also found that 33 percent of households have at least one electrical appliance in their home that does not work and can be recycled.
They found that about 12 million laptops, nine million tablets, 18.5 million game consoles and 6.5 million computers hoarded by Britons have the potential to be sold or recycled.
However, only a third are convinced that they know how to recycle their electrical appliances.
According to Currys, if 1 in 10 UK households handed in a smartphone instead of hoarding, it would put 5.5 million phones back into circulation.
With the average weight of a smartphone of 175 grams, this could potentially lead to almost a million kilos of material being put back into the economy.
They also estimate that there are 31 million hidden laptops across the country, containing enough steel to make 159,000 swings in the playground.
Currys’ in-home and repair center operations kept nearly 17 million technology in circulation last year.
The retailer also recycles more than 100,000 tons of non-repairable technology each year, which is the equivalent of more than 50,000 black cabs in London.
Currys is currently running a Cash For Trash campaign offering customers a £5 voucher until 15 November when they recycle technology in-store.
“We want the nation to turn in their unwanted technology through our in-store take-back service and Cash for Trash campaign so we can get vital materials back into the production cycle,” said Thomas
“We estimate that Currys had nearly 17 million kilos of tech in circulation last year. We want to let that number grow.’
Scientists invent method to recycle lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars
Lithium-ion batteries, found in smartphones, electric vehicles and laptops, are a future toxic waste disaster as they run out, but a startup claims to have the solution.
Based in Westborough, Massachusetts, Ascend Elements created a process that shreds used batteries and turns them into cathode materials, ready to be converted into future working batteries and placed in electric vehicles.
The process creates a powder called ‘black mass’, which is then filtered to remove impurities, and all the individual metal elements are extracted, reducing the need for more mining.
These upcycled batteries can be custom-made for a specific manufacturer, last longer than traditional EV batteries and can be recharged more frequently, the company said.
Read more here
Lithium-ion batteries, found in cell phones, electric vehicles and laptops, pose a future toxic waste disaster if they run out, but a startup claims to have the solution