A bond strengthened by time, gold’s influence on human society is extensive. From jewellery and dental crowns to spacecraft and electronics, the properties of gold add value to a number of mankind’s inventions.
However, we may soon find ourselves in a world where mining and extraction from the earth’s crust may not be economically feasible, and our access to additional gold may end. Hence, it is now more important than ever to facilitate the recycling of gold, and one company taking a serious initiative in this direction is Apple –for good reason.
Consumer electronics such as smartphones contain tiny amounts of gold in them. Gold is primarily used in consumer electronics due to its excellent conductive properties but, as importantly, for its ability to resist corrosion. Corroded metals do not transmit electricity, and hence would immediately stop your electronic device from working. If excellent conductivity is all engineers were after, then silver would better serve their needs. Silver is the most conductive material that man knows of, but unfortunately it is highly corrosive and hence impossible to use. However, due to the extremely high price of gold, copper, a more corrosion resistant metal than silver, serves as the best alternative for engineers, but underperforms in its conductivity as compared with gold. For this reason, gold is used sparingly in electronics devices, primarily between connections of two electronic components.
So how much gold does your phone actually have? A single iPhone on average has 0.034g of gold in it. While this might seem miniscule, things get rather interesting when you have large quantity of phones, and that’s exactly what Apple had due to its recycling program., Apple collected 90 million pounds of electronic waste and was able to extract 2,204 pounds of gold, which amounts to 43.5 million U.S. dollars, and reduced the amount of gold they had to buy, as the requirement for gold would have still been the same but partially fulfilled by the recycling.