With rare earth supplies uncertain and gold and silver prices spiking, a new international project wants to mine a potentially huge untapped source of minerals and metals: that dresser drawer where you’re hoarding all your old cell phones.
Electronic waste is not a new problem. It’s estimated that only 10-15 percent of personal electronics--cellphones, computers, televisions, etc.--are properly recycled. Many are shipped abroad for “recycling” (where health and environmental laws are lax), but even among those many of the components, some of which are toxic, become landfill. The rest end up in dumps here in the U.S., or in that aforementioned dresser drawer where your Nokia 1600 still resides, just in case you need it someday (you won’t).