Is There a 'Gold Treasure' in Your Closet? Old Electronics Can Be Surprisingly Valuable

Written by Henrik Rothen

Mar.14 - 2024 11:36 AM CET

Photo: Wiki Commons
Photo: Wiki Commons
Old electronics can be surprisingly valuable.

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Researchers at the Swiss State Institute of Technology have unveiled a groundbreaking method that breathes new life into electronic waste by extracting valuable gold.

  • Innovative Recovery: Utilizing protein fiber fungus from cheese-making, this method stands out for its sustainability and efficiency.

  • Sustainable Success: Professor Raffaele Mezzenga from ETH Zurich remarked, "It is difficult to do this more sustainably," showcasing the eco-friendly aspect of this technology.

The team's success is not just scientific but also financially promising:

  • Gold Harvest: From 20 old computer motherboards, researchers gathered 450 milligrams of 22 carat gold, equating to approximately $33.

  • High Returns: This technique boasts a return rate 50 times higher than the cost, turning every dollar spent on separation into $50 worth of gold.

With the World Health Organization (WHO) raising alarms about the rapid growth of toxic electronic waste, this discovery could be a game-changer.

  • A Global Challenge: Electronic waste is the fastest-growing waste stream, posing significant threats to both health and the environment.

  • The Power of Incentive: Encouraging recycling through financial incentives could be a key strategy in tackling this issue, as millions of electronic devices are discarded annually.

This Swiss breakthrough not only highlights the untapped wealth in our discarded gadgets but also points towards a more sustainable future in waste management and recycling.