Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Any Old Iron?

Away from the ‘me too’ raising of hands over digital formats, it was interesting to read an article in Reuters about technology recycling. Many of us automatically upgrade our mobiles on a annual basis, we either pass the old one down within the family, send it back in the bag provided, or put it with the others in the cupboard along with its charger and accessories.

Whwn we think about scrap we almost all automatically think of ‘Steptoe and Son’ and images of tinkers and rag and bone men. However, a good friend who know works for one of the largest firms in the metals recycling business market, recently explained to us the significant money that there was in scrap. He even pointed to one expanding leisure industry business that was built purely on the back of recycling old PCs.

Reuters in their article confirmed that "urban mining", scavenging through the scrap metal in old electronic products can yield iridium and gold. Precious metals are melted down and sold as ingots to jewellers and investors as well as back to manufacturers. According to the article a tonne of ore from a gold mine yields on average 5 grams (0.18 ounce) of gold, whereas a tonne of discarded mobile phones can yield 150 grams (5.3 ounce) and some 100 kg (220 lb) of copper and 3 kg (6.6 lb) of silver.

So collectively those transient ebook readers may be worth more than we believe both in terms of helping move the digital agenda forward and the metal they will yield when they meet the great scrapheap in the sky.