Trash transformed: Unlocking the hidden value in everyday e-waste

Artificial intelligence-generated image of trash being turned into gold.
One man’s trash really is another’s treasure.

DALL-E 

  • Every year, billions of tons of trash are bagged up and buried underground, never to be seen again.
  • This is not only well wasteful but also has a real environmental impact.
  • But, especially regarding technological waste, moves are afoot to turn that trash into a genuine treasure.

Countries worldwide produce millions, even billions of tons of mixed trash annually. In the United States alone, somewhere in the order of 268 million tons a year, around 6.9 million tons of old electronics (e-waste). The average American generates around 4.5 pounds (2 kg) of waste daily, most of which is recyclable.

Traditionally, household and commercial waste (depending on what it is) generally head to a landfill for disposal. Still, various strategies worldwide exist to incinerate or repurpose some of it where possible. But, with genuine concerns over dwindling precious resources for electronic raw materials, could we be on the verge of a true trash-to-treasure revolution? Let’s find out.