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Solutions to recover precious metals from electronics

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Funding, Support

Did you know in the last five years alone, 12.5 million computers have been thrown into UK landfills?

Tetronics International, landfill with birds in the sky

We are a UK-based company that uses our plasma arc technology to offer resource recovery solutions and hazardous waste treatment. With over 5 decades of experience and 90 plasma installations across 4 continents, we are now focusing a little closer to home.

With the funding from Innovate UK, we are looking to help stop the growing e-waste epidemic in the UK, and turn the waste into value, by recovering the precious metals hidden inside your old computer or mobile phone.

We are great at doing two things:

  • helping the environment by keeping waste out of landfills
  • helping the economy by generating an income from waste

What is e-waste?

The term ‘e-waste’ is short for ‘electronic waste’, which can be defined as a term to cover items of all types of electrical and electronic equipment and its parts that have been discarded by the owner as waste without intention of re-use.

The growth of e-waste market is due to the growing need and the consumer trend for upgrading to the latest technologies.

Because technology advances at such a high rate, many electronic devices become unwanted after a few short years of use. A desire towards the adoption of new technologically advanced devices leads to the generation of million tons of e-waste.

E-waste contains base and precious metals, which are found in the Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) within electronics equipment.

The estimated metal value per tonne of PCB is circa £12,600. In addition to the valuable metals in the PCBs, e-waste contains hazardous substances that, if treated inappropriately, can damage both human health and the environment.

Tetronics International, Electronic circuit board close up
Printed Circuit Board that contains precious metal

Funding will help us recover 98% precious metals from electronics for UK

The UK is currently exporting over £1 billion worth of metal value from e-waste every year to overseas with a relatively poor understanding of its actual value.

This, in turn, results in the UK manufacturing industry having to reimport these materials in order for them to re-enter the UK market.

The project, funded by Innovate UK, focuses on halving the overall losses of precious metals during their recovery from electronics waste and to retain these materials in the UK.

This project will help the UK to become self-sufficient and also help develop localised waste processing opportunities in the UK.

It will also see around 98% of precious metals in electronics waste being recovered domestically, which can be sold on for use in new products and provide independency for the UK.

Collaboration is central to achieving circular economy business models

The project represents a route to achieving the missing links in the circular economy business model from pure metal to product.

This will be achieved through the partners’ expertise, together Tetronics International, Metech Recycling and Vale Europe offer world leading expertise in:

  • waste collection and sorting
  • smelting based efficiency
  • precious metal recovery and refining.

Tetronics will facilitate the demonstration of plasma-based smelting technology at Tetronics’ trials facility in Swindon, UK.

Tetronics International cutting edge plasma technology in action
Tetronics International cutting edge plasma technology in action

What this means for the UK?

Together Tetronics International, Metech Recycling and Vale Europe can help the UK control its own destiny in terms of dealing with its electronics waste.

The funding from Innovate UK will help the consortium show the high recovery rates of precious metals that can be achieved from e-waste and keep this within the UK market to boost production and the economy.

The project will help deal with an ever-growing problem of e-waste and then generate production from this by recovering precious metals.

Contact us 

To find out more about this project or to see how we might be able to help you, please contact us via: 

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