BBC Future – “With so many of us now stuck in our homes during the pandemic, long-postponed jobs such as clearing out the loft or attic may seem like a good way of keeping the monotony at bay. Perhaps sorting through the “drawer of junk” in the kitchen or cleaning out that over-stuffed cupboard in the spare room are rising up your to-do list. If you need a little extra motivation for the spring clean, though, there’s probably treasure hidden in there. Locked inside the old products we hoard in dusty corners are valuable metals and minerals. These are the same, much-needed natural resources that our modern world runs on. Collectively, our homes and backyards are an “urban mine” filled with these essential materials that are just waiting to be dug out. Around the world there are millions, if not billions, of unused electronic devices in our homes – old mobile phones, neglected games consoles, ancient stereos, outdated computer equipment and defunct printers to name a few. Each of these contains copper, silver and even gold, along with a wide range of valuable rare earth elements.
The key, however, is getting people to get rid of their old devices in a way that means these metals can be extracted, recycled and reused. But before you start your own treasure hunt, a quick caveat: some local authorities are currently asking people not to create more rubbish at a time when refuse collection services are over-stretched. So, view this more as an opportunity to sort your hoard into neat piles, for recycling later…”