Recycling for Rare Metals

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Green, Precious Metals

Your digital camera survived the past six years, but now you’ve replaced it with a new, sleek model. You might consider sending the outdated version to the dump, but some companies offer a better solution. That digital camera “is also an important resource,” explains an Akita poster in Japan, placed near a collection box for outdated electronics. “Don’t throw it away! Please cooperate and recycle.”

The same suggestions apply for cell phones, iPods, walkmen, and other gadgets. Rare and precious metals, such as gold, silver, platinum and iridium, help create those gadgets and all their snazzy features.  High-tech industries rely on these precious metals, and Japan, a high-tech wonderland, holds several companies that support and manage recycling initiatives known as “urban mining.” Akita, for example, collects electronics at Japanese supermarkets, using boxes and posters that spout research and advice.

“Meanwhile, big cell phone companies like NTT DoCoMo Inc. are placing collection boxes at 50 large electronics shops and convenience stores in Tokyo,” Martin Frid shares in a recent article. “But an official at the Telecommunications Carriers Association said much more goes to waste.”

Electronics companies are partly to blame, of course, with certain products that aren’t easily recycled. But as we’ve discussed many times in the past, green innovations are causing more metals to find life after death, and Japanese companies take these innovations seriously.

–Amy Edwards

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