Are the Streets are Paved with Gold?

posted 15.07.2013

[caption id="attachment_5295" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Are the streets paved with gold?"]Streets are Paved with Gold[/caption]

This Sundays Daily Telegraph featured an interesting feature under the instantly attention grabbing headline of ?The streets are littered with gold?, in itself conjuring images of people scouring the pavements and highways of Britain waiting to stumble upon unknown riches.

References to Dick Whittington may be a bit misleading but the article did touch upon the changing emphasis and indeed understanding of waste in the UK. The article went on to explain how Veolia Environmental Services, one of the UK?s largest street cleaning operators is planning to extract valuable metals (yes? including some gold) from the sweepings that they undertake.

It is reported that they believe that in ?mining? street sweepings in such a way they can extract metals with a value of at least £1m. These would include palladium, rhodium and platinum, all of which are valuable and rare metals which could be recovered at a level similar to ore found in the ground at the locations where mined. They have developed a filtration and extraction process for this in order to recover these materials instead of the traditional route of landfill. The first such centre to begin this process is located at Ling Hall, located near Rugby in Warwickshire.

These metals can be deposited in a number of ways for example they include includes deposits from car exhausts as they are commonly found in vehicles catalytic converters. Also small quantities of gold and silver can be rubbed off clothes, shoes and jewellery leaving small trace deposits in sweepings.

This is another representation of an increasing shift in attitude towards the potential value of waste; resource security has led to rising prices in the cost of metals meaning that such recovery methods are becoming increasingly viable business techniques. We have already heard of people ?mining? landfill sites in other countries and more and more extraction techniques will be introduced as people and businesses start to get to grips with the circular economy and the commercial opportunities which it represents.



Category: environment, in the news, recycling