Valuable ‘rare earth elements’ found in 40 million unused electronic gadgets in UK homes | The independent

There are as many as 40 million unused electronic gadgets in UK homes that contain valuable “rare earth elements”, according to a new report.

Old phones contain things like gold, arsenic and rare elements like indium, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) said after investigating the amount of unused technology stored in households British.

The natural sources of six of the elements found in cell phones are expected to run out over the next 100 years, but most people have said they have no plans to recycle their devices.

More than half (59%) of the 2,000 people who took an online survey said knowing it would make them more likely to do so.

The results also revealed that half of respondents had at least one unused electronic device and 45 percent of households had up to five.

“We need to act now – from governments, manufacturers and retailers – to make reuse and recycling easier, and we need to enable a new generation of talent in chemistry to help,” said Robert Parker, Managing Director of the RSC. “The UK has a tremendous opportunity to become a world leader in this area and to set an example for other nations.”

Another concern about recycling unused devices is that they often contain so-called “conflict elements” such as tin, gold, tungsten and tantalum, which are mined in areas where battles and child labor are often part of their exploitation.

Indium is vital for touch screens because it is electrically conductive and transparent.

Mr Parker said: “Chemical scientists are already working to find breakthrough solutions – by studying long-term substitutes for rare elements in devices, or by finding new chemical methods to extract precious materials and reuse them – but we all can and should do it. Following.

“As individuals reuse and recycling are the best options available to us, but even if they are recycled, it is still extremely difficult to recover some of these items from unused devices. “

Additional reporting by the Press Association


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