We’ve published posts in the past about why recycling gold is socially responsible. (See related posts below.) Recycled gold doesn’t have to be mined, and mining pollutes air and water and burns fossil fuels. And then there’s the fact that recycled gold is not dug from the earth by underpaid, exploited workers.
Of course, it is possible that the gold that we recycle from computer motherboards, old jewelry and other sources does have a “dirty” past – because gold doesn’t have DNA, it is impossible to know whether it originally came from a mine in Africa or from ancient amulets that were stolen from the Aztecs. But even if that is the case, the gold that we recycle today is generations removed from any dirty sources and less closely linked to environmental or societal ills.
“The Losing Battle against Conflict Minerals,” an article that Natasja Sheriff wrote for Al Jazeera on September 14, 2015, reports that “conflict minerals” – minerals and rare metals that are mined in countries where corruption, worker oppression and violence are widespread – are flowing into the U.S. all the time. To quote from the article . . .
“United States regulations concerning the trade in conflict minerals, aimed at reducing the devastating violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), are proving difficult to enforce, as illegal armed groups and corrupt members of the Congolese military continue to create instability in the regions, according to a report released this summer by the U.S Government Accountability Office. Most of the conflict minerals in question are rare earth minerals that are used in the manufacturing of screens and other components used in smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices.”
What’s going on in those regions? Armed rebels are supervising mining operations, people are fleeing their homes to avoid rebel groups and the Congolese army too, which interrogates civilians brutally to find out what they know about rebel activities in their regions.
It is hard to “vote with your dollars” to stop all those horrendous activities. (What are you supposed to do, buy smartphones without screens?) But the fact remains that recycling items, especially electronic devices, goes a long way toward keeping dollars out of the pockets of corrupt and violent individuals in Africa.
One Important Step to Take
So is recycling the responsible thing to do? Absolutely. If you have old electronics or other devices that you would like to recycle responsibly, please give us a call at 800-426-2344. We’re here to test your holdings and tell you what they are worth. When you call, please mention this blog post and ask about free or discounted shipping on the items that you send us for testing.
What Are Eco-Gold and Ethical Gold?
Doing Well by Doing Good: Why Your Business Should Co-Sponsor an Electronics Recycling Day in Your Community
On Earth Day, Let’s Agree to Recycle Metals Responsibly
Become a Rich Environmentalist by Recycling Precious Metals