Precious Metal Ore in Landfills Trumps Mine Production

Every year thousands of tons of electronic devices are thrown into the world’s landfills. Scrapped in favor of newer, lighter, more efficient, more powerful and faster versions, used electronics are now becoming one of the most rapidly growing forms of waste generated by humanity.

According to the first Global e-sustainability Initiative, or GeSI, landfills now constitute veritable treasure troves of recoverable precious metals. When accounting for precious metals in proportion to total volumes of urban landfills, figures indicating available ore are estimated between forty and fifty times larger than actual mined ore volumes. If all this metal were to be recovered, the value could be as high as $21 billion dollars per annum. Currently less than 20% of this metal is actually being recycled. 7,500 tons of silver and 320 tons of gold are used annually in the production of consumer electronics.

Benefits generated by recycling of precious metals, like silver, copper and gold include reduced emissions from mining and manufacturing processes.

Creative Ways to Recycle Items Containing Silver

Since the amount of silver existing on earth constitutes a finite resource, recycling is a way to use silver resources that have already been tapped. Demand for silver increases each year, as its usage in technology and industry expand.

Although silver rounds, coins and bars are not usually recycling fodder, reclamation of silver can be achieved with metal from a variety of sources. Unwanted silver jewelry or silverware can be sold to recyclers or to jewelry stores that can use it to create new jewelry items.

Surprisingly, silver can be extracted from old photographs. Electrolysis, a method that utilizes electrical current and a special solution, can extract silver from photos which have been developed by older methods.

Most computer manufacturers have recycling programs to reclaim silver from computers, in addition to a multitude of other electronic devices. This silver is typically used to create new electronic components and devices.

Businesses and Consumers Seize Opportunities in Silver Scrap Recycling

According to the most recent edition of the Thomason Reuters GFMS World Silver Survey, increases in the scrap silver supply have been noted in both 2010 and 2011. The report further indicates that the silver supply produced in 2011 contained almost twenty-five percent scrap silver.

Poor global economic conditions likely contributed to the rise in silver scrap, as individuals sold not only personal property made from silver, but also purchased used silver items to resell for their valuable silver content.

Industrial silver recycling, although not profitable for individual consumers, is, nonetheless a large silver scrap supply contributor. The supply of scrap silver from electronics, dental alloys and industrial catalytic reactions is bolstered by new, stricter regulatory legislation over companies producing precious metals-containing, hazardous waste. Precious metals recycling service companies take on the waste liabilities of other companies in order to take advantage of the ability to harvest recyclable metals, including silver, platinum, gold and copper.

How to Turn Old Sterling Silver Items into Cash

Items made from sterling silver are found in many private homes and businesses. Attics, closets, jewelry boxes and kitchen cabinets may hold a variety of silver items like tableware, coins or jewelry. Although many of these items may have either collectible or sentimental value, some old silver items are only valuable to their owners when they can be transformed into cash.

Below are some tips to extract the best prices for your old silver items.

1.) Before attempting to sell your items, make certain that they can be classified as containing an acceptable amount of pure silver. Silver content can usually be determined by stamped markings.

2.) Remove tarnish, clean and polish your marketable silver to enhance its appearance.

3.) Research financial information to find current silver valuations.

4.) Research potential silver buyers. Good possibilities are reputable area dealers or metals fabricators, pawn brokers or internet sites. Keep in mind that prices for your items may vary widely between these types of buyers.

UK Government Sponsors Precious Metals Recycling Program

Great Britain’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is teaming with local business to increase reclamation of precious metals from electronic and industrial waste. DEFRA estimates that twelve million tons of electronic products will be disposed of, as waste, by the year 2020. These items contain valuable, recyclable precious metals including, silver, gold, palladium, platinum, indium and gallium.

While silver, gold, platinum and palladium have realized extreme valuation increases in the last few years, rare metals are always in demand for industrial purposes. UK Secretary of Business, Vince Cable believes these efforts will create both innovation and growth in the British economy.

The primary goal of the Resource Security Action Plan is to make the country less susceptible to fluctuations in raw materials prices and supplies. Additional aspects of the proposed program are to encourage repair and reuse of broken or previously used electronic equipment. The department is offering cash incentives to businesses establishing partnerships to prevent such waste.