Saturday, 18 May 2013

There's gold in that there dust!

Gratuitous picture of gold - although this is a story about gold...
We bought a new house last December in Cheltenham in the UK from an old couple who had begun to find the place a bit hard to manage. The husband was an amateur jewellery making expert and worked out of this room.

Messy!

Before the old boy finally kissed goodbye to his home of more than 40 years and after his tribe of children and grandchildren had cleared the decades of clutter, he gave his workshop a sweep. As one does. He then trotted down to his gold supplier who sifted through the dust before handing over 400 whopping quid to our happy homeseller. For dust! Or, I suppose, the miniscule shavings of gold therein...

So it didn't come entirely as a surprise to read last weekend that Britain's recycling industry now generates more than £10 billion in sales a year and employs more than 30,000 people.

What's more, we Brits have gone from recycling just 7.5% of household waste in 1995 to 42.5%  in 2012. Even more gobsmacking is that we now recycle more household waste than we send to landfill.

My last astonishing factoid, which brings me full circle back to gold, is that it's possible to extract more pure gold from a tonne of electrical waste than from a tonne of unprocessed gold ore. Although I understand it's a tricky process involving lethal acids - so don't try it at home!