An additional $12 billion in financial and natural capital could be realized if all gold, silver and platinum were recycled from e-scrap, according to a study conducted for the Green Electronics Council.
The research, released at the 2015 Emerging Green Conference in Portland, Ore., explores natural capital costs and benefits of recycling electronics. It was conducted by London-based environmental data firm Trucost on behalf of the Portland-based Green Electronics Council, a nonprofit organization operating the EPEAT global rating system for electronics.
The research found that recycling 15 percent of gold and silver and 5 percent of platinum from electronics provides more than $2 billion in financial and natural capital benefits. Those benefits would theoretically rise by $12 billion, however, if 100 percent of the metals were recycled.
The $12 billion figure includes avoided material procurement costs and $173 million in avoided natural capital costs from mining, according to the study.
The Green Electronics Council engaged Trucost in order to better understand the intersection of environmental stewardship and return on investment when natural capital considerations are included in the equation, according to a press release.
“Accounting for natural capital translates environmental benefits to the language of business – dollars and cents," Libby Bernick, Trucost senior vice president for North America, stated in the press release. "Companies can finally join up the financial and environmental business case."