Can You Recycle Precious Metals from Medicines and Medical Devices?

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? 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. 

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Recycling Silver Cadmium Contacts Can Give You a Big Payday

Recycling Silver Cadmium Contacts Can Give You a Big Payday

If you’re buying and recycling scrapped precious metals, we have a piece of profitable advice for you today: Be on the lookout for silver cadmium scrap or unused components. There’s a lot of money to be made by recycling them, for several reasons. First, old industrial components made of silver cadmium are not difficult to find, because they have been used for years in many manufacturing processes. Second, with cadmium trading at about $12 per pound, a quantify of unused or recycled silver cadmium components can offer you a big return over what you paid for them.

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Recycling Silver Cadmium Oxide Scrap

When you think about recycling precious metals, you probably think first about gold, silver, and platinum. That’s good thinking. If you have items that contain those metals, you could be sitting on a lot of money.

Photo of silver cadmium scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for environmentally responsible recycling and refining.

Photo of silver cadmium scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for environmentally responsible recycling and refining.

But have you also stopped to ask whether the items you have on hand contain quantities of silver cadmium oxide? It is often overlooked – it is easy to overlook – but it can contain quantities of silver and cadmium that are quite valuable.

Where Can You Find Cadmium Silver Oxide?

Short answer. If you own almost any kind of electronic scrap, you probably own quantities of silver cadmium oxide. It is widely used in motors, switches, relays, and electrical contacts.

Why is Silver Cadmium Used in Electronic Devices?

Silver cadmium oxide is used because it possesses two seemingly contradictory positive traits. First, it is a very good conductor of electricity. Second, it is arc-resistant (it inhibits the tendency of electricity to arc between contacts when they are open). Those two traits make it an ideal material for use in switches and other applications, especially where high electrical loads are present.

What Will My Scrap Look Like?

Silver cadmium oxide can be found in old electrical-powered manufacturing equipment like motors, switches, relays, and brazed contact assemblies. But it is also found in materials that are used to manufacture those items – materials like silver-cadmium oxide wire, sheets, strips and tapes.

How Much Cadmium Is in My Scrap?

The answer is, it depends. Silver cadmium oxide contacts generally contain between 10% and 25% cadmium. How can you tell what you have? Send us a sample of what you have for testing. Call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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On Earth Day, Let’s Agree to Recycle Metals Responsibly

When you think about handling and recycling metals responsibly, chances are that you think about environmental laws. If you’re complying with all federal and state laws regarding disposal of materials, then you’ve got your bases covered, right?

This Earth Day, Specialty Metals wants to remind you to recycle your precious metals like silver cadmium responsibly.

Well, not completely. Obeying laws is wonderful, but we need to be vigilant, not merely compliant, to be sure we are not doing environmental damage.

Silver Cadmium: A Case in Point

Silver cadmium is an alloy that is widely used in welding and in the fabrication of electrical components. It conducts electricity well, but its greatest value resides in its usefulness in brazing. When silver and cadmium are combined to make brazing rods, the result is a product that has a relatively low melting point, making it easy to work with.

The problem? When silver cadmium materials are used in brazing, they release noxious gases that can put your employees’ health in jeopardy. Whether you’ve got robotic operations taking place or your employees are doing the brazing at close range, they’re in danger unless your facilities are not just adequately, but aggressively ventilated. Adhering to environmental laws is a good baseline but if you really want to protect people, you’ve got to go above and beyond to make sure they are safe.

Recycling Silver Cadmium Responsibly

Photo of silver cadmium scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for environmentally responsible recycling and refining.

Photo of silver cadmium scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for environmentally responsible recycling and refining.

Then we come to the issue of recycling silver cadmium. It is a big concern. When you send your unused quantities of silver cadmium to be recycled and refined – those unused ends of welding rods and wire, electrical contacts or silver cadmium strips or powder, depending on your industry – you want to be sure that they will be recycled responsibly. When those materials are smelted and refined, they again release poisonous gases that can harm people and the environment too.

Many precious metals recycling companies will accept silver cadmium for refining and recycling. But before you use their services, we’d like you to be aware that Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, the best secondary refiner of precious metals in the US, is one of the very few refiners in the world that is fully equipped to recycle silver cadmium scrap safely and responsibly.

Earth Day is a good time for all of us who work with metals to renew our commitment to the environment. We’ve made a lot of progress in improving the quality of our air, water, and soil. Future generations are counting on us to keep up the good environmental fight today.

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