Is e-waste a potential gold mine?
Recovering metals and rare earth elements from electronics and LED lights will soon become a reality.
In light of the increasing popularity of energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs and lamps, researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada say that recovering metals from LED lights may soon become an economical option. Professor Maria Holuszko says she and her team have successfully recovered copper, silver and are certain they may be able to extract some rare earth elements such as europium, cerium and lutetium without using chemicals.
The project piggybacks earlier work done by at the University of Edinburgh in which researchers developed a new extraction method that recovered gold from mobile phones, TVs and computers without using toxic chemicals, such as cyanide. The news takes on even more relevance considering the United Nations Environment Program report called “Waste Crimes” which states that up to 50 million tonnes of electronic waste are expected to be disposed this year.