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Smart, local e-cycling could earn the UK £1 billion

United Kingdom – A consortium of UK firms, led by Tetronics International, has launched a ‘ground’€breaking’ project worth £1 million (US$ 1.52 million) to help unlock the value in discarded electronic devices such as mobile phones, TVs and even toasters.

Tetronics, Metech Recycling and Vale Europe have together received a £600 000 (US$ 914 000) grant from the government agency Innovate UK. The partners will use the funding to develop the UK′s first integrated plasma facility for the recovery of precious metals from sustainable processing of electronic waste.

The pilot facility, scheduled to open in mid?2016, will recover platinum group metals, gold and silver on a smaller and more localised scale than existing centralised methods, with no need for further refining. The development will enable around 98% of precious metals in electronics waste to be recovered domestically and ′will allow independence from the large refiners,′ the consortium claims.

It estimates that around 5.6 million tonnes of electronic products will be bought between now and 2020 in the UK. ′The components of these products are expected to include more than 30 tonnes of gold, more than 600 tonnes of silver and more than three tonnes of platinum group metals, which represent a total market value of more than £1 billion (US$ 1.52 billion),′ Tetronics adds.

The company′s ceo, Graeme Rumbol, says the British economy is ′missing out′ on this billion-pound opportunity because prcessors are not recovering the value in electronic waste efficiently. ′The grant from Innovate UK will allow us to develop a demonstration facility, which we hope will lead to British companies being able to install the technology in future,′ Rumbol adds.

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