Urban Mining: The Unexplored Hero to Combat E-Junk Monster

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Featured Image: iStock.com/makenoodle

When e-junk monster terrorizes – Urban Mining might just save the day!

Gadget churn and latest gizmos are the e-junk monsters in disguise or at least they are going to be in near future. Honestly, it’s no surprise to see the volume of unwanted electronic waste rise beyond control. To make things worse, consumerism added fuel to the fire. The demand for short-lived IT products and electronic items has surpassed any company’s manufacturing capabilities.

It seems the natural resources for metal are depleting fast but a prudent individual can understand that the metal/s needed for electronics and tech gadgets manufacturing never really left this earth. They are still here, buried under tons of electronic waste feeding the e-junk monster. And the improper IT disposal contributes massively to such electronic graveyards. Is there any way, to turn the pile of waste worth a billion dollars, into something useful? To tell you the truth, the unexplored solution has been right under our noses.  That’s right, Urban mining, the traditional way to salvage what’s still of use might just work.

What is Urban Mining?

The process that involves the harvesting of metal from discarded electronics is known as Urban Mining. As of now, the world is producing approximately 45 million tons of electronic waste every year but if it’s harvested for its valuables, it can save a lot of energy, landfill space and the amount of toxins released into the atmosphere. E-waste is hazardous, especially, when it is burnt or when it reaches landfills.

With urban mining, the e-waste is channelized to authorized recyclers who can process the waste and make it usable. Urban mining can be highly profitable for the US market alone because the trash we discard each year amounts to $60, million worth of gold and silver. Currently, only 10 to 15 percent gold has been recovered through Urban Mining.

The Need for Urban Mining

Extraction of metal in its purest form has always been a challenge. And then there is an ever-growing -demand for metals, especially, copper. The extraction of metals from nature is an energy-intensive and expensive process which is why fishing out metal from junk became a common practice. As our electronics wear out or grow obsolete, they are discarded. This only adds weight to the e-junk monster. Some of it ends up in the landfills while the rest just keeps piling above the ground.

How Can It Help?

So far, a start-up company has taken a positive initiative by planting the very first urban mining refineries. It seems BlueOak Resources is determined to extract precious metal and reusable materials from the pile of junk. This is called e-waste recycling at its best. Since the demand for metal continues to grow, the cost of obtaining those material are all time high. However, e-waste recycling and processing is the most logical way to sustain our technology needs.

The idea is to source metals sustainably from end-of-life electronics. This will lead to a circular integration in technology supply chain that will enable the conversion to today’s e-waste into a sustainable source of metals for tomorrow.

If a recycling plant applies urban mining to fish out re-useable metal, half of the problems caused by e-waste will be addressed. What do you think are the capabilities of a recycling plant that apply urban mining procedures?

About The Author

Kelly Sampson is a writer, blogger, and environmental enthusiast. She has strong opinions about climate change, the dogs vs. cats debate, and Oxford commas. She has lent Hummingbird International her engaging and spirited voice and turned our blog into a great place to find valuable information about e-waste, e-waste recycling, and the ITAD industry. Explore our blog to read more of her work.

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