Staggering statistic time. 40 million tons of e-waste is discarded globally each year, with only about 13 percent currently undergoing some form of recycling: The rest winds up in the trash and landfills. To put this into perspective – NASA and private enterprise is staging and financing eventual trips to asteroids for rare earth metals. Elements like palladium, copper, nickel, and tungsten. We’re using so much of this stuff in our gadgetry that we’re running out of it. Makes you want to watch the Story of Stuff again.
Cleantech.com broke a development on this story today, in a piece they put together about new market tax credits that the facility is receiving.
Built and operated by BlueOak Resources Inc., the new facility will be located in Osceola, Arkansas — a highly distressed rural area with a 44.3% poverty rate and 12.7% unemployment rate. It is scheduled to become operational by the end of 2015 and expected to create 75 high-paying permanent jobs with extensive training and salaries averaging $50,000 per year.
BlueOak is aiming to capitalise on the high demand for ‘technology metals’ like gold, silver, copper and palladium by creating distributed urban refineries in the U.S. and throughout the world that recover high-value metals from e-waste. Brilliant! Production at their selected Arkansas facility will begin by the end of next year and will process about 15 million pounds of e-waste a year.
In addition to recycling precious metals from existing e-waste, facilities like this reduce the need to mine for virgin ore, which is expensive and impacts the environment. It will also reduce the shipment of e-waste to developing countries, where it is often picked apart over open pit fires in order to melt away plastic and obtain precious metals. This facility potentially could change the American waste landscape. This would be a good thing considering our appetite for computers, smart phones, and tablets.