Gold, Silver, and Copper in E-Waste

Gold and silver have been used in manufacturing for centuries, millennia even. For the longest time, this waste was reused or recycled and used for new purposes, like wiring, for example. But with the rise of electronic devices, gold and silver waste has hit a new high. Over 300 tons of gold, 10% of the world’s production, was thrown away last year in the form of e-waste. Aside from the obvious reason, money, what makes this such a big deal for environmentalists and manufacturers?

Gold: What Is It Good For?

Humanity has been fascinated by gold since the first caveman saw a shiny piece of metal in a riverbed. We’ve worn it as jewelry, put it on our teeth, and even coated coffins with it. But gold serves a greater purpose, other than just being shiny. Gold is an excellent conductor of electricity. Ever since electrical machinery began to be used in the late 18th century, gold has been used to bring power to those machines in the form of wiring. Even today, gold tipped plugs and wires are among the most highly sought after because they produce the one of the highest rates of electrical exchange.

When electricity began to be used to power handheld devices, gold made its way into them for much the same purpose. Inside our cellphones, there is about 1/40th of a gram of gold. So, 40 phones equals one gram of gold. This number may seem high, but it takes one ton, about 2,000 pounds, of rock to produce the same amount of gold that’s in 40 cell phones.

Wasting Gold

As previously stated, there were 300 tons of gold thrown out last year in the form of e-waste. So, using the aforementioned formula, that’s 13,607,771,100 cell phone’s worth of gold. Of course, there are only about 7 billion cell phones in use today, and who knows how many of them were actually thrown away in 2014. The 300 tons of gold includes everything from old televisions, washing machines, and refrigerators. Pretty much anything that has some form of electronic wiring inside has a gold or copper wire component. But this problem isn’t just about throwing out millions of dollars worth gold, silver, and copper every year. Cell phones and other e-waste contain other dangerous metals such as lead, chromium, and mercury. These metals make their ways into ground water, lakes, and rivers, which eventually end up in our homes as drinking water.

The Solution?

Reading this, you may be thinking ‘Hey! I’ll but up old cell phones and melt them down to get out the gold, silver, etc.’ Well, good luck with that. The amount of gold inside cell phones can get you a little less than $1.50. So, to make $100.00, you’d need about 100 cell phones (which is quite a lot.) The main way companies use e-waste is taking out the old components and making them into new devices. They also take the other, more dangerous metals, like lead, chromium, and mercury, and dispose of them properly. So what can you do? You can recycle your e-waste. There are special containers at many electronic stores that are used only for cell phones, batteries, and other forms of e-waste. But, if you really want to be adventurous, you could try to get the gold out yourself. But you might end up spending a lot more money than you’d make.


If you’re looking for a place to sell all of that gold from your e-waste recycling operation, why not come by Gold Unlimited? We’ll pay top dollar for all of your gold, silver, and jewelry. Come by and see what your gold is worth. You’ll end up leaving with a smile on your face and a pocket full of cash.

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