Foundry Daily News

60 different raw materials in every mobile phone

also available in  Deutsch


•E-waste contains millions of tiny quantities of valuable raw materials

•IFAT ENTSORGA in Munich showcases the latest technology for recycling e-waste

•German technology leads the way in efficiency

You could say it´s the best gold mine in the world – because just 41 mobile phones contain as much pure gold as can be obtained from a whole tonne of gold ore. And to get at this treasure, you don´t need to dig deep mines, blast holes in mountains or sift through acres of sand. Exhibitors at this year´s IFAT ENTSORGA, the World´s Leading Trade Fair for Water, Sewage, Waste and Raw Materials Management, which takes place in Munich from 13 to 17 September 2010, will be displaying the technology that is used to recover gold and other valuable raw materials from electronic waste (e-waste). Certainly the effort is well rewarded – many of the materials enclosed in these products are either extremely expensive or only available in limited quantities – or they are both of these things! E-waste = gold mine According to a recent survey by the German Ministry of the Environment, in Germany alone some 600,000 tonnes of electronic waste is discarded each year. That is a good 7.5 kilos per head. Contained in this waste are also precious metals like gold, silver and palladium. Mobile telephones and computers are a particularly rich source. The IT industry already 'consumes' 15 percent of the world´s annual production of cobalt, 13 percent of the total volume of palladium extracted, and three percent of all the gold and silver mined each year. The value of the gold, silver, copper, palladium and cobalt built into computers in 2008 reached a considerable sum – at 2.7 billion euros. Most of it ends up as waste, but this is very valuable waste: one tonne of printed circuit boards, for example, contains 250 grams of gold. By comparison: One tonne of mineral ore from a very productive gold mine contains no more than five grams of the precious metal. Recovering this gold, and other raw materials, is an important step towards sustainable use of the resources that only occur on the Earth in limited quantities. It also makes an important contribution towards smoothing out dangerous price fluctuations on the world market. In the case of particularly rare materials recycling is already indispensable. Annual demand for gallium, for example, which is found in LED lamps, microchips and in thin-film photovoltaics, is forecast to rise again by 2030 to six times the present level. Gallium is relatively rare and only occurs in compounds, which makes extraction complicated and expensive. Recycling is without doubt a much more efficient alternative. Recovery uses only a fraction of the energy that would otherwise be needed to mine and smelt it. And the method is significantly cheaper. In 2008 135 tonnes of gallium was obtained through recovery, while only 95 tonnes was produced in the conventional way. This is just one example of the growing importance of recycling e-waste. In parallel with this we are seeing a further dramatic increase in the quantity of e-waste which can be exploited. By 2020 the volume of e-waste in China and South Africa will reach four times that of the levels in 2007, and in India as much as five times. German companies are an innovations engine for e-waste recycling Germany has virtually no reserves of primary raw materials, but it is the world champion in extracting secondary raw materials. Not just in terms of its system of waste separation, but also because many of the companies that lead the field in recycling technology come from Germany. At IFAT ENTSORGA these recycling companies and others will be showcasing their new technologies and solutions along with the international competition. Three examples of successful German firms The ALBA Group covers the entire spectrum of recycling: With an annual turnover of over 2.2 billion euros, and around 9,000 employees, the ALBA Group is one of Europe´s leading providers of environmental services and suppliers of raw materials. At IFAT ENTSORGA the company will be focusing in particular on its new solutions for 'urban mining', or the recovery of resources from anthropogenic waste (i.e. generated by people). Also at IFAT ENTSORGA is MeWa Recycling. This year the firm from the region of Baden-Württemberg has started up operations at its state-of-the-art recycling plant in the English town of St Helens. This plant can process up to 40,000 tonnes of e-waste per year. hamos GmbH, too, a medium-sized firm from the town of Penzberg in Upper Bavaria, has grown into a leading world supplier of separation systems for e-waste recycling. The systems it develops are capable of automatically processing printed circuit boards from computers and mobile phones to extract pure, high-quality metals. E-waste recycling is not yet practised everywhere. A large proportion of the metals found in electronic waste is not being redirected back into the production cycle. Each year, according to the UN environmental programme UNEP, over five billion euros worth of metals are simply not recovered. Germany´s Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) claims that one quarter of the country´s e-waste ends up abroad where it is processed without any regard to people´s health or environmental safety – another reason why we should be devoting more attention to the subject of e-waste recycling in future. Mobile phone treasure chest Each mobile phone contains 60 different raw materials, among them small and tiny quantities of the coveted metals gold, silver, copper, cobalt and palladium. But it´s the sheer numbers involved that make this interesting: in 2008, for example, 1.3 billion mobile phones were sold worldwide – and just the gold in them was worth 1.1 billion US dollars. Raw materials in every mobile phone: Copper 9 grams Cobalt 3.6 grams Silver 250 milligrams Gold 24 milligrams Palladium 9 milligrams IFAT ENTSORGA In 2008 IFAT set a new record for attendance, with 2,605 exhibitors from 41 countries and around 120,000 trade visitors from 170 countries. From 2010 onwards Messe München and the BDE will be holding this event as a cooperation. IFAT will in future take place under the name of IFAT ENTSORGA, World's Leading Trade Fair for Water, Sewage, Waste and Raw Materials Management. The next event takes place at the New Munich Trade Fair Centre from 13 to 17 September 2010. IFAT ENTSORGA is the world’s most important trade fair for innovations, new developments and services in the fields of water, sewage, waste and raw materials management. Messe München International (MMI) Messe München International (MMI) is one of the world’s leading trade-fair companies. It organises around 40 trade fairs for capital and consumer goods, and key high-tech industries. Each year over 30,000 exhibitors from more than 100 countries, and over two million visitors from more than 200 countries take part in the events in Munich. In addition, MMI organises trade fairs in Asia, Russia, the Middle East and South America. With six subsidiaries abroad – in Europe and in Asia – and with 64 foreign representatives actively serving over 90 countries, MMI has a truly global network. Environmental protection and sustainability are key priorities in all MMI’s operations, at home and abroad. Further information:

Youtube Linkedin Xing