Fast Company

Nasty, Dirty, Yucky... And in Demand

A global building boom is driving up metal prices, turning trash into treasure.

  • Aluminum buried in landfills per year: 6 million tons
  • Computers disposed of in the United States per year: 50 million
  • Cell phones thrown away in Japan by 2010: 610 million
  • Electronic Waste worldwide per year: 20 to 50 million tons
  • Recent value of 1kg of gold recovered from 5 tons of electronic waste: $22,000

Megacities (Population 5 million or more)

  • In 1950: 8
  • In 2001: 41
  • In 2010: 59

Metal Prices Are Skyrocketing (average dollar prices for 2003, April 2006)

Metal Price in 2003 Price in 2006
Aluminum (ton) $1,431 $2,621
Copper (ton) $1,779 $6,388
Gold (ounce) $363.5 $670.7
Lead (kg) $0.515 $1.170
Silver (ounce) $4.911 $12.632
Zinc (kg) $0.828 $3.095

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