Defra launches action plan for recycling precious metals


An action plan has been launched by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to help recycle precious metals such as gold and platinum.

As the global demand for consumer goods rises and there is a reliance on speciality metals from abroad, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman published the Resource Security Action Plan to make sure UK businesses are more resilient to any changes in supply and price.


The action plan aims to developer better coordination between businesses and industry and includes:

  • Financial support of £200k for local businesses to come up with new ways of reusing or recycling precious materials. Defra will be working with the Technology Strategy Board to help build better partnerships between businesses, local authorities and local communities to provide growth opportunities. For example, better partnerships between manufacturers, waste companies and local authorities could see products redesigned so that recovering valuable minerals is easy and cost-effective.
  • A new industry-led consortium to spearhead business efforts to build up a comprehensive picture of the risks and growth opportunities that UK business can take advantage of in a global market
  • A map will be developed of where and how precious metals come in and out of the UK in electrical and electronic equipment. This will enable businesses to innovate to capture those materials with it estimated that 75 per cent of the £350 million worth of gold in consumer goods is lost through traditional recycling processes
  • A website will be developed to provide businesses with information on current and future available of precious resources that they rely on.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “Businesses are already feeling the heat from uncertainty in the supply of speciality metals used in mobile phones, medical equipment and aeroplanes.

“We’re working with business to help prepare for these risk – but there is also a multi-billion pound opportunity in the massive amount of valuable metals lost because of how we deal now with products people no longer want.

“I want to see British businesses taking advantage of this golden opportunity to boost growth and jobs through how we design products, while re-using, recycling or substituting valuable metals.”

The Resource Security Action Plan was developed in consultation with businesses and organisations including Confederation of British Industry, EEF, the Aldersgate Group, the Environmental Industries Commission, IEMA, the Green Alliance, Rolls Royce, General Electric, Veolia and SITA.