Earlier there was only one option: gold had to be dug out of the ground. Often under dangerous conditions. Forget the romantic movie images of the gold rush - it´s labour-intensive work: you have to extract 1 tonne of gold ore for a mere 3 grams of gold.
Everyone understands that, one day, the world´s gold mines will be exhausted. And so for some time now a different path has been pursued - one that´s good for human beings, the environment and the economy.
Not digging, but recycling: urban mining
Urban mining, or the circular economy, appears to offer a solution: precious metals are recovered from discarded electrical and electronic appliances. Lead, nickel, copper, silver and even gold. We can all very easily become a part of this circular economy.
So have you struck it rich with your old mobile phone? Well, not really. It only amounts to something if you have large amounts of them. To stick with the above example: from 1 tonne of mobile telephones you can derive no less than 300 grams of pure gold.
Thus recycling is more than just reducing the waste mountain. In Belgium, Recupel plays a crucial role in that process. And our country is doing a good job of fulfilling its sustainable role. In 2015 Belgium collected and processed almost 10 kg of discarded electrical and electronic material per inhabitant. This puts us amongst the world’s leading countries in terms of electro-recycling.
Are you planning to get married? Then it may well be that your wedding ring contains a bit of world-improving gold. How’s that for a good portent …
A golden tip…
Turn in your old e-appliances at a RecyclePoint or a container park in your community.