Dell has announced what it has called an “industry-first” pilot to use recycled gold from used electronics in new computer motherboards.
The pilot follows a successful feasibility study on server motherboards. The closed-loop gold process could support the creation of millions of new motherboards in the next year.
It expands Dell’s closed loop programme from plastics to precious metals.
Currently only 12.5% of e-waste is recycled into other products, it says. As a result, it’s estimated that Americans throw away $60m in gold and silver every year through unwanted phones alone.
Not only does reusing and upcycling gold from used technology have economic benefits, it also creates enormous environmental and social benefits by avoiding the damage to human health and the leaching of pollutants commonly associated with mined gold, Dell says.
“When you think about the fact that there is up to 800x more gold in a ton of motherboards than a ton of ore from the earth, you start to realise the enormous opportunity we have to put valuable materials to work.”
According to a Trucost study, the gold reclamation process created by Dell environmental partner Wistron GreenTech has a 99% lower environmental impact than traditionally mined gold.
In addition, Dell and actress, entrepreneur and activist Nikki Reed are announcing a collaboration in support of the sustainable design movement. The Circular Collection by Bayou with Love and Dell is a new, limited edition jewellery collection made in the US and sourced from gold recovered from Dell’s recycling programmes.
“Bayou with Love was created to bring greater awareness to the human impact on our planet and show that beautiful items can come from sustainably sourced and recycled materials,” said Nikki Reed, co-founder of Bayou with Love. “By recycling gold that was once considered ‘waste,’ Dell and I are working to create an environment where we continuously reuse resources and strive for zero waste.”
“At Dell, we pride ourselves in finding better, more efficient ways to do business particularly throughout our supply chain,” said Jeff Clarke, Dell vice chairman. “Materials innovation – where and how we source things like plastic, carbon fibre and now gold for our products – is increasingly important for us.
“When you think about the fact that there is up to 800x more gold in a ton of motherboards than a ton of ore from the earth, you start to realise the enormous opportunity we have to put valuable materials to work. Nikki Reed gets that and so do we. It takes constantly thinking outside of the box and pushing the boundaries of innovation to solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.”
Using an environmentally-responsible extraction process, the used electronics are broken down into individual components by Dell’s environmental partner, Wistron GreenTech. Gold from the motherboards is then recycled into new computer motherboards as part of Dell’s closed loop supply chain or upcycled into other products.