Recover Valuable Metals from Computers and Electronics
Few Minnesotans think of their obsolete or broken computers and other electronics devices as potential gold mines. Instead, we think of them as useless junk. In reality, our desktop PCs, laptops, and the portable electronic devices we use daily are a rich resource, containing precious and valuable metals. Each year more than 300 tons of gold and 7500 tons of silver are used in the manufacture of high-tech equipment. If that equipment is sent to landfills, it’s easy to imagine how much money is lost. Recovering that lost gold, silver and other valuable metals is now a global business, fed by a steady stream of recycled electronic technology.
That e-waste stream is now a literal gold mine. That is because recovering valuable metals from recycled materials costs up to 75% less than mining and refining them from their ore minerals. Both in the United States and around the world, jobs are created, economies benefit, and the metals recovered are reused in a wide range of industries. A number of valuable metals are recovered in this process, including:
- Gold – This precious metal is an excellent conductor of electricity and resists corrosion better than any other. For that reason is it widely used as plating on other metals for contacts, sockets, switches, and inside computer chips. The quantity in each device is small, but gold’s value is so high, recovering that gold is a high priority for recycling.
- Silver – Like gold, silver conducts electricity extremely well, so it is widely used in electronic equipment. It is also used in high-strength solders to make strong electrical connections. Silver recovery is important in high-tech recycling, due to silver’s high value.
- Copper – Copper is reasonable in price and an excellent electrical conductor, so it is used in wires, connectors, and many other components of today’s electronic equipment and computers. With a lower value than gold or silver, it is still actively recycled due to the large quantity used and the high cost of producing copper from ore.
- Platinum and Palladium – Less common than other precious metals in most electronic equipment, they still occur in some components and can be recycled and reused. Due to their extremely high value, careful recycling is justified to recover these rare metals.
- Rare Metals and Elements – The electronic devices we all use on a daily basis also include some rare metals that most people have never heard of. Rare-earth elements and metals like neodymium, dysprosium, yttrium, tantalum and others are used in individual components. Magnets, displays, capacitors, and other parts contain these elements. Mining for most of these rare minerals occurs primarily in China, so recycling programs for them have become more and more important in recent years.
- Recovering Other Metals – Common metals, including aluminum, zinc, stainless steel, nickel and cobalt are also available for recovery in computers and other electronic equipment. Since it costs far less to recover these metals than it does to mine and refine them, the recycling companies listed in our Minnesota Computer Recycling website separate and recycle all of them.
Recovering Valuable Metals from Electronics Is Good Business
An entire global industry dedicated to recovering a wide range of resources from computers and electronic waste has developed in the past 30 years. It’s constantly growing as the value of recovered materials and the benefits of keeping toxic materials out of the environment becomes better known. By finding and using local recycling facilities in our Minnesota Computer Recycling directory for your outdated, unwanted, and obsolete electronics, you’ll create jobs and help to protect the environment, both in our own state and around the world. It’s a winning strategy all around.