30% of the World’s Precious Metals Come from Recycling!

Oct 1, 2023 | Toolbox

From economic efficiency to environmental sustainability, recycling precious metals offers tremendous benefits.

By Edmund Schwenk

In recent years, there has been a remarkable shift in the global precious metal supply chain, with approximately 30% of the world’s precious metal supply now originating from recycling efforts. This transformation represents a significant milestone in the sustainable management of Earth’s finite resources and reflects the growing awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of recycling precious metals.

Traditionally, precious metals like gold, silver, platinum, and palladium have primarily been obtained through mining, a process that often comes with considerable environmental and social costs. However, as society has become more environmentally conscious and concerned about the ethical implications of mining, the recycling of precious metals has gained prominence.

Recycling precious metals involves the collection and reprocessing of used and discarded items containing these valuable materials. This can range from old electronics, jewelry, catalytic converters, and industrial waste to name a few. The metals are carefully extracted, refined, and reintroduced into various industries, reducing the need for fresh mining operations.

Traditionally, precious metals like gold, silver, platinum, and palladium have primarily been obtained through mining, a process that often comes with considerable environmental and social costs.

There are several key factors contributing to the rise of precious metal recycling:

1. Environmental Sustainability: Recycling precious metals significantly reduces the environmental impact associated with mining. It conserves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and minimizes habitat disruption, soil erosion, and water pollution.

2. Ethical Sourcing: Ethical concerns surrounding mining practices, such as conflict minerals and child labor, are mitigated when precious metals are sourced from recycled materials.

3. Economic Efficiency: Recycling precious metals is often more cost-effective than mining new resources. It also reduces the market’s vulnerability to price fluctuations caused by supply shortages.

4. Technological Advancements: Advances in recycling technologies have made the extraction and refinement of precious metals from complex electronic waste and other materials more efficient and cost-effective.

5. Consumer Awareness: As consumers and industries increasingly prioritize sustainability, the demand for recycled precious metals has grown, prompting more businesses to invest in recycling initiatives.

This 30% figure is a testament to the ongoing transition towards a circular economy where valuable resources are continually reused, extending the lifespan of precious metals and minimizing waste. It exemplifies a collective commitment to sustainable practices and responsible resource management, ultimately safeguarding the planet and ensuring a brighter, more sustainable future for generations to come.

Edmund Schwenk has been engaged in the processing/refining/manufacturing of precious metals for over 30 years. Early on, he received training in a laboratory setting as an assayer utilizing classical fire assay, crucible fusion, and cupellation techniques. This coupled with in plant manufacturing process experiences led to advancement as Senior Vice President in charge of precious metals refinery operations for Pure Metals Corporation, directing the fabrication of high purity precious metals products sputtering targets for multiple defense contractors and government testing laboratories. Ed’s unique experience has benefited noble6 through the development of two disruptor technologies for use in the auto catalyst recycling sector.  Visit noble6’s website at www.noble6.com or call 619-427-8540 for more information.

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