Electronic waste now contains precious metal deposits that are 40 to 50 times richer than ores mined from the ground, experts have told a conference in Ghana, Africa.
With 320 tonnes of gold and 7,500 tonnes of silver now used annually to make PCs, mobile phones, tablet computers and other electrical products worldwide, this is adding more than $21 billion in value each year to materials that will eventually become a waste.
With only 15 per cent of these materials recovered from e-waste each year worldwide, this is creating a potentially huge urban mining industry delegates were told at the e-waste academy organised by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative and also the Solving the E-Waste Problem with backing from the United Nations.
The idea of the conference was to help African and South American nations develop better infrastructure to deal with waste electrical and electronic equipment.
GeSI chairman Luis Neves said: “Efforts such as the GeSI and StEP e-Waste Academy help create networks among policymakers and other relevant stakeholders for sharing information, ideas and best practices to foster real e-waste solutions and enable the transition to a closed loop and green economy.
“More sustainable consumption patterns and material recycling are essential if consumers continue to enjoy high-tech devices that support everything from modern communications to smart transport, intelligent buildings and more.”