Can You Recycle Precious Metals from Medicines and Medical Devices?

Please take a minute to consider this imaginary story…

You buy an old retail building that was once home to several stores. One of them was a pharmacy. While you’re exploring there, you open a drawer and find several dozen boxes of old wound dressings that contain silver. You then send those wound dressing to a precious metals refinery like us, we process them, and send you a nice big check for several hundred dollars.

It's a nice fantasy, isn’t it? It sounds reasonable. After all, wound dressings that contain silver have been manufactured and sold for many years. But if you find any, they are not going to contain enough silver to be worth much.

Sorry to deflate your dreams of wealth. But let’s look at some other places where silver and other precious metals can be found in the world of medicine.

Where Is Silver Found in Medicines and Medical Equipment?

Used X-ray film, one of the types of silver-bearing medical, dental, industrial and graphic arts films scrap that Specialty Metals recycles.

Used X-ray film, one of the types of silver-bearing medical, dental, industrial and graphic arts films scrap that Specialty Metals recycles.

  • In bandages and wound dressings, as noted above. Silver has long been used in bandages because it inhibits the growth of bacteria and promotes healing. But again, those dressings contain too little silver to recycle. Note that small amounts of silver can also be found in tinctures and ointments that are used to promote the healing of wounds.
  • In x-ray films (both unprocessed and processed) and x-ray chemicals and papers from the pre-digital era. These materials really do contain enough silver to be worth recycling. The only problem is that it is necessary to gather and recycle hundreds of pounds of these materials to obtain even a small quantity of silver. But if you have x-ray materials and would like to know more, call our precious metals recycling consultants at 800-426-2344.

Where Is Platinum Found?

Platinum crucibles like these can be made of pure platinum or platinum alloy, which Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners can recycle for your company.

Platinum crucibles like these can be made of pure platinum or platinum alloy, which Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners can recycle for your company.

  • In chemotherapy drugs. Over the last few decades, platinum has found increasing use in anti-cancer drugs. But can you snap up supplies of out-of-date chemotherapy medicines and send them to us for recycling? No, the quantities of platinum that they contain are too small.
  • In medical testing and other equipment. Platinum has been widely used in a variety of medical devices, including coronary catheters, pacemakers and defibrillators – and those devices contain enough platinum to recycle for meaningful dollars. If you can collect 40 or 50 units or more, give us a call and ask us about them.
  • In laboratory equipment. Granted, testing equipment is not the same thing as medical equipment, but we decided to mention it here anyway. Old platinum labware (including crucibles, forceps and stands) contains enough platinum to recycle profitably. In other words, the value of the platinum they contain could exceed the cost of processing them. That means you make money.

Where is Cadmium Found?

scrap silver cadmium electrical contacts that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for recycling and refining.

scrap silver cadmium electrical contacts that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for recycling and refining.

  • In catheters and probes used for coronary testing. Cadmium conducts electricity well and it does not corrode or oxidize. It is therefore widely used in devices that are inserted into veins and arteries to test circulation and heart functioning. And don’t forget that veterinarians are using catheters and probes today too.
  • In pacemakers and other devices that use Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) batteries. There are many devices in the world of medicine that use these batteries, just as there are devices in your home that use them. In general, there is not enough cadmium in such batteries to recycle profitably, even if you own hundreds of them. That said, as a good conductor of electricity, cadmium is often combined with silver to create silver cadmium electrical contacts. If you happen to collect a large lot of them, call us at 800-426-2344 to speak with a precious metals consultant.

Where Is Gold Found?

Circuit boards and computer scrap, which contain Platinum, Palladium, Silver and Gold that Specialty Metals refines and recycles.

Circuit boards and computer scrap, which contain Platinum, Palladium, Silver and Gold that Specialty Metals refines and recycles.

  • In medicines. Since ancient times, gold has been used in medicines that have been swallowed or injected. Today, it can still be found in some skin creams and beauty treatments. But those emulsions do not contain enough gold to recycle.
  • In medical testing supplies. For example, gold nanoparticles are used in testing strips that are used to test for malaria and other diseases. Can you recycle those strips and make good money? The quick answer to that question is, no. On a higher tech level, gold particles are also used in more complex tests to diagnose HIV/AIDs and other ailments. But they cannot be profitably recycled either.
  • In computers and all other electronic devices that are used in medicine. Any device that contains circuit boards contains small quantities of gold. And in hospitals especially, a lot of equipment is discarded or recycled. Can you extract and refine gold from them? You certainly can, if you have a sufficient quantity. Call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

In Summary…

Precious metals can be found in many places in the world of medicine – but almost always in very small amounts. Still, if you can collect large quantities of any of the materials described in today’s post, call our precious metals counselors at 800-426-2344. We will be happy to explain whether it could be smart to have your items tested in our state-of-the-art labs. In many cases, we offer free or discounted shipping on items that are sent to us to be tested. Be sure to mention today’s post!

Related Posts:

How to Make Money Recycling Medical Scrap 
Recycling Opportunity: More Medical Equipment Is Getting Scrapped than Ever Before 
New Medical Technologies Spur a Boom in Platinum Use 
Recycling Silver Cadmium Contacts Can Give You a Big Payday