Study: $22 billion in gold was tossed as e-waste in 2016 |

Study: $22 billion in gold was tossed as e-waste in 2016

Electronic waste bound for recycling is collected at Disability Resources in Reno.
Sally Roberts/NNBW

RENO — A study released Jan. 4 shows that $22 billion of gold (500 metric tonnes or 16 million troy ounces) was thrown away worldwide in electronics’ waste in 2016, according to Reno-based Itronics Inc.,  a creative green technology company that extracts usable metals from e-scrap.

The joint study entitled: “The Global E-Waste Monitor 2017” was released by the U.N. University (UNU), the International Telecommunication Union, and the International Solid Waste Association. The gold is in the electronic circuitry in e-waste thata is defined in the report as anything that has a plug or battery.

According to the World Gold Council 146.9 million troy ounces of gold (4,571 metric tons) were produced worldwide in 2016. About 70 percent or 104 million ounces were mined, and about 30 percent or 42 million ounces were recycled. In 2016 the amount of gold thrown away in e-waste worldwide was equal to 15 percent of world mine production, a very significant amount of loss.

The report also notes that 51 million troy ounces of silver (1,600 metric tonnes) valued at about $1 billon is also thrown away in the e-waste. Vast amounts of other valuable metals including copper, tin, and palladium are also in the e-waste that is thrown away. The report estimates that 45 million metric tons of e-waste were generated worldwide in 2016.

“These e-waste scrap statistics including the amount of gold and other valuable metals lost worldwide are staggering,” Itronics’ President Dr. John Whitney stated in a press release. “They demonstrate that the market our breakthrough e-waste recycling technology is targeting is very large and growing on a worldwide scale. We not only recover the gold and silver, but the other valuable metals, such as copper, tin and palladium.”

Using its refining technology, Itronics processes computer circuit boards extracted from e-waste, at its manufacturing plant in Stead. The circuit boards are converted into silver bullion and silver-bearing glass which are sold, completely eliminating the waste from the environment by converting it to commercial products.

Itronics produces GOLD’n GRO specialty liquid fertilizers, silver bullion, and silver-bearing glass.