THE UK GOVERNMENT will launch a scheme to prevent "hundreds of millions of pounds" worth of precious metals like gold and platinum from being wasted when old mobile phones and laptops are scrapped.
Whitehall said the Resource Security Action Plan unveiled by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman today aims to help UK businesses benefit from the multi-billion pound global market in extracting and reusing these valuable commodities.
"Businesses are already feeling the heat from uncertainty in the supply of the speciality metals used in mobile phones, medical equipment and aeroplanes," Spelman said.
"We're working with business to help prepare for these risks - but there is also a multi-billion pound opportunity in the massive amount of valuable metals lost because of how we deal now with products people no longer want."
The plan provides financial support of £200k for local businesses to come up with new ways of re-using or recycling precious materials. To unlock the hidden value of these old gadgets, a map of where and how the precious metals come in and out of the UK in electrical and electronic equipment will be made so that recycling companies will be able to target them more efficiency.
The scheme will also see the development of a web site to provide businesses with information on the current and future availability of precious resources to help them identify risks and opportunities and plan for any potential supply problems.
According to the latest Whitehall estimates the potential global recovery opportunities of the European Union's 14 most critical metals and minerals stand at around $15bn.
The Resource Security Action Plan was developed in consultation with business, waste management companies, manufacturing companies including the Confederation of British Industry, the manufacturers' organisation EFF, the Aldersgate Group, the Environmental Industries Commission, IEMA, the Green Alliance, Rolls Royce, General Electric, Veolia and Sita. µ