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UN: Treated waste could be ‘gold mine’

October 11, 2013

UN: Treated waste could be ‘gold mine’

Recycling and waste treatment can be a “gold mine,” perhaps literally, according to a UN report that finds treated waste can be put to profitable use. Many waste products can be reused and, if waste is separated at source, the uncontaminated organic fraction can be composted or digested anaerobically, the report says.

For example, 1 metric ton of electrical and electronic waste contains as much gold as 5 to 15 metric tons of typical gold ore, and amounts of copper, aluminum and rare metals that exceed by many times the levels found in typical ores. As a result, printed circuit boards are probably the “richest ore stream you’re ever going to find,” according to the Guidelines for National Waste Management Strategies: Moving from Challenges to Opportunities.

The UN estimates that 3.5 billion people, or half of the world’s population, are without access to crucial waste management services, posing significant environmental and health hazards and harming economies.

Read more at Environmental Leader.

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