Humans pollute the air in many ways, but the single most polluting activity done on earth is mining for gold. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mercury pollution from trash incineration, hazardous waste collection, and mercury mining combined still does not add up to half the total amount of mercury pollution made annually by gold mining..
However, not all gold can be recovered from recycled items. It is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain the gold out of electronic products that are becoming more and more miniaturized. Fortunately, the high percentage of gold recycling is attributed to the high value placed on the mineral. It has been estimated that 85 percent of all the gold ever mined can currently be accounted for. The missing 15 percent has either been lost or used in some kind of industrial process where it is cannot be readily retrieved.
After gold has been mined, approximately 63 percent is used in jewelry (which includes art), 21 percent as coins, 15 percent in some kind of industrial use including electronics, and the other 1 percent in dental gold. Since gold jewelry and gold coins are usually kept as collector pieces, family heirlooms, or personal wear, the highest percentage of gold that can be recycled by the average person is in their electronics.
The handling, accountability, and security in the generation, collection, and distribution part of the recycling industries is usually very extensive and elaborate. Many times all items that even come in to contact with the gold is also processed to obtain as much of the gold as possible. This even includes the gloves, aprons, and dust masks worn by the workers and the tools used to dust or sweep the shops.
During the gold recycling process, any impurities including lead, copper, and silver that are found during the process are gathered into a “sludge”. This “sludge” also contains all the platinum-group metals, which are recovered through various other methods. The recovery of other precious and non-precious metals while recycling gold helps to lessen further environmental damage caused by mining for gold as well as other metals.
It's important for all of us to do our part to keep our planet viable for future generations. We are proud to be a part of that process and hope you will continue to do the same.