The UK is losing more than £13 million of critical raw materials due to the lack of advanced recovery technologies.
That’s according to new research commissioned by Material Focus, the not-for-profit organisation behind the Recycle Your Electricals campaign, and conducted by Giraffe Innovation.
The study showed that more than £148 million of critical and precious materials reach recyclers each year. But while precious metals like gold and silver are often recovered overseas, many critical raw materials are lost during processing.
The research discovered there are 379,000 kg of critical and precious raw materials hidden in waste electrical components and circuit boards, including gold, silver and palladium.
By investing in advanced recovery technologies, the UK could begin recovering all of these materials and harness their value within the UK rather than sending them abroad. This would include critical raw materials worth at least £13 million per year.
Critical raw materials are vital in the manufacture of a wide range of electrical items, such as mobile phones, tablets and smart TVs. Global demand for raw materials is expected to double between 2010 and 2030, with demand for critical raw materials in particular expected to accelerate by 20 times over the same period.
With the UK throwing away 300,000 tonnes of electrical waste from households and businesses each year, the research highlights the potential for increased recycling of electricals as a means to address the UK’s economic vulnerability regarding these materials.