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Recycling of Gold

Recycling of gold and other valuable metals from electronic devices at the end of life (WEEE) has a significant potential impact on the sustainable supply of gold and other metals to meet the needs of our modern society. In addition, gold has a vital role to play in the economics of recycling such scrap. Thus, a ‘design for recycling’ approach is needed in specifying materials used in new equipment manufacture by OEMs, especially gold.

Thus, gold is the ‘paying metal’ that triggers recovery of other scarce precious and special metals that otherwise would not be economic to recover.Such an approach needs to be combined with innovative business models that encourage a more comprehensive collection of consumer goods at their end of life.

There are legal requirements in Europe for a ‘closed loop’ recycling system under the EU WEEE Directive, but currently this is far from the reality. Too much scrap is exported and poorly recycled, with a consequential damaging impact on environment and local communities. This loophole needs to be closed. Governments and manufacturers of electronic products have a major role to play here in encouraging efficient collection systems and in enforcing existing legislation.