A recent study has found that an incredible £90 million worth of valuable metals could be found and recovered in every landfill site in the UK.
Valuable Metals Found In UK Landfill Sites
Research conducted by scientists at Cranfield University analysed samples from four different UK landfill sites, finding metals which could be worth a total of £360m.
There were a variety of different metals which were discovered in the landfill sites, including common metals and much rarer ones.
Between all four of the sites they looked at, they found a total of £260 million in copper and aluminium, £92m of palladium, which is used in cars' catalytic converters, and £5m of Neodymium, which is most often used to create super-powerful magnets.
Dr Stuart Wagland, who worked on the project, said: “There is clearly potential value in our landfills, considering we only looked at the soil-like materials within the landfill sites.
“It is unlikely that the recovery of only rare earth elements and critical metals would be economically viable, however recover copper and aluminium and it starts to make sense.
“Further resource recovery is possible with the extraction of larger metal items and the reprocessing of plastics, adding even more value to the operation.”
Clearly the cost of recovering some of these metals outweighs their value, which makes it unpractical. However if just the common metals were recovered then not only could large amounts of money and resources be made back, but it would also free up land and the cost savings which come with that.
The UK currently has around 4000 landfill sites based all over the country, which according to the scientist could contain as much as £360 billion in un-reclaimed metals.
One source for this is thought to be the large amount of waste electronics (WEEE disposal) which were sent to landfill before the introduction of the EU’s 2002 WEEE directive.
In recent years the government has shown that it is committed to recovering valuable metals from waste. In march it allocated £600,000 funding to help develop Britain's first 'plasma facility' which will recover gold, silver and platinum from electronic waste.
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