Gold nugget in a flask of alcohol (Photo: Alice Chodura/Wikimedia Commons) - Credit: Gold nugget in a flask of alcohol (Photo: Alice Chodura/Wikimedia Commons)
Friday, 4 December 2015 - 09:13
Over €27 million in gold tossed in the trash in 2012
Some 27 million euros worth of gold ended up in the trash in 2012, Statistics Netherlands reported on Friday in its publication Green Growth in the Netherlands 2015. The gold was in parts of discarded electrical appliances. A total of 73 million euros worth of raw materials were thrown away in discarded electrical appliances in 2012. These discarded electronic and electrical equipment amounted to 368 million kilograms of waste, which contained many raw materials that can be reused. About 10 percent of this waste was not recycled. With the increasing number of electronic appliances, such as electric toothbrushes, smartphones, washing machines etc., in circulation, Dutch households and companies currently hold about 4.4 billion kilograms of electrical and electronic products. This translates to 585 kg per household, or 259 kg per person. By weight the raw materials in these products mostly consist of metals - 42 percent iron and 5 percent copper - and plastics - 22 percent. Precious metals only form 0.01 percent of the weight, but a substantial part of the value of renewable raw materials in discarded appliances. Gold accounts for 16 percent of the value, Palladium for 3 percent and silver for 1 percent. Not all of these raw materials are recovered and recycled. By weight, only about 20 to 40 percent is officially collected and recorded and then processed according to the legal standards. The rest ends up in the trash. With the current method of collection and processing of waste, an annual 40 million kilograms of electrical and electronic devices end up in the garbage, with none of the raw materials recycled. The value of these materials amount to some 73 million euros, 27 million of which is gold. Some 4 million euro of palladium is lost and 2 million euros in silver. Only 31 percent of the gold is officially collected, 40.7 percent ended up in the trash and what happened to the remaining 27.4 percent is unknown.