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Why there's gold to be found in your old-fashioned TV set

Published Wednesday 23rd November 2016

We’ve heard about how much gold is contained in the circuitry of discarded mobile phones and laptops, but the precious metal is also lurking in older technology.

A new company has been set up to extract gold from old fashioned TVs, using robots to deal with the more dangerous aspects of the job. French water and waste business Veolia is aiming to remove the gold and other recyclable materials from around 300,000 old-style TVs a year from its site at Bridgnorth in Shropshire.

The company has brought in two robots to break down the old TVs and deal with the dangerous LCD light tubes that have mercury inside. Once the framework has been separated out, the different recyclable parts are removed and sorted.

Like modern mobiles, tablets and laptops, old TVs use gold in their circuitry and once this has been harvested, it’s sent off to another site so that the precious metal can be extracted and used again.

The presence of the gold helps make it a worthwhile operation. Electronics manufacturers have to pay for the old equipment they’ve made to be recycled, but Veolia only receives around £1 per set. Although the work costs more to carry out, the company keeps the profits from the gold and other elements it removes from the old TVs.

Veolia technical director Richard Kirkman told the BBC: “There is no part that we cannot find a use for.

“More than 90 per cent is recycled into a useful material - different types of plastic, glass, non-ferrous metal.”

If you choose to go down the recycling route yourself by selling your old, broken and unwanted gold jewellery, you’ll certainly raise a lot more than £1 per item. The high values gold has achieved this year means that more and more people have been opting to put their old ‘scrap’ gold back into the system and make some extra spending money at the same time.