Did you know one of the rare earth elements uses is your smartphone? What about inside the touch-screen laptop sitting on your desk?
You probably already know that these devices are made up of common metals like copper and aluminum. But did you know many electronics also contain rare earth metals?
Rare earth metals are important, naturally-occurring elements mined from the earth’s crust. Also referred to as rare earth elements or rare earth minerals, these metals are critical components for the function of our everyday electronics.
However, when rare earth metals aren’t disposed of properly, they can wreak havoc on both the environment and your health.
Good news: like most metals, they can be scrapped and recycled.
In this article, we will discuss the many benefits of recycling rare earth metals, including how you can:
- Help the environment
- Save your health
- Boost the economy
- And put money in your pocket!
Let’s dig in!
1. Help the Environment
You guessed it, rare earth production puts a strain on our natural environment.
Most people instantly think of deforestation when it comes to mineral mining. However, another negative side effect comes in the form of poor management of rare earth metal disposal.
Simply put, when we casually throw away our electronics and other objects that contain rare earth metals, we run the risk of exposing the environment to these toxic elements in their rawest form.
Think about it – do we really want our plants, animals, rivers, and oceans to be filled with toxins like neodymium, europium, and cerium? Definitely not.
The simple solution? Recycle.
When recycled properly, many of the compounds in our electronics can be reused – including rare earth metals. This helps the environment in two key ways:
- By recycling, we decrease the need to destroy natural habitat for rare earth production
- We can single-handedly reduce the spread of electronic waste in the environment
But wait, there’s more…
This, in turn, can save your health!
2. Save Your Health
When rare earth elements are ingested in high quantities, it can damage your health.
And the scary truth is, we could be consuming these toxic minerals on a day-to-day basis. But how?
It all has to do with the process of bioaccumulation. Let us explain.
When rare earth metals aren’t disposed of properly, toxins can leach out into the surrounding area and contaminate crops, livestock, and wildlife.
Unfortunately, since these metals are not easily digested, the toxins are retained in the cells of organisms and passed up the food chain in even higher concentrations, a process called bioaccumulation.
Simply put, these compounds will accumulate in our bodies over time – a terrifying thought for our overall health!
That being said, it is more important than ever to recycle.
3. Boost the Economy
What if we told you, by recycling objects that contain rare earth minerals, you can help boost the economy?
With the demand for electronics consistently on the rise, rare earth metals are extremely desirable. However, these elements aren’t entirely easy to get.
To understand this better, let us tell you why the global economy is centered around where these metals are found.
Rare Earth Production: Where are Rare Earth Metals Found?
In nature, rare earth metals can be found in the earth’s crust. And what’s more? They are commonly clustered together in geologic deposits.
It sounds like an easy gold mine to find, right?
Well… not exactly. What makes these elements “rare” is their difficulty to mine. For instance, many are located at the bottom of the ocean. Meanwhile, others are concentrated together in specific geographic regions like China.
This has allowed countries like China to corner the rare earth production market. In fact, in 2011, China accounted for a whopping 97% of rare earth production.
Meanwhile, this has led some countries like the U.S. to turn their eyes towards other means of digging up these minerals.
Companies Turn to the Recycled Electronics Industry
Big bucks can be made in the recycled electronics industry.
Since China cornered the market in rare earth production and extraction, many Western corporations like Apple have taken an interest in the recycled electronics industry for easy access to these valuable elements.
In fact, these companies plan to use recycled rare earth minerals in many of their upcoming products. This new trend is a major win for our economy!
2. Scrap Rare Earth Metals and Make a Profit
As you can see, the effects of not recycling can weigh heavily on the environment, the economy, and your health. However, if you STILL need to be convinced to recycle, we have one more trick up our sleeves…
Money. As we mentioned before, you can scrap rare earth metals and put a few extra bucks in your pocket.
It’s simple. All you need to do is round-up items that contain rare earth metals, such as:
- Touch-screen devices
- Flat-screen monitors
- Computer hard drives
Once you’ve collected these items, you can contact a safe, environmentally-friendly electronics recycling facility to break down the rare earth metals properly.
More times than not, these facilities will exchange money for your scrap metal – leaving you with less trash and more cash.
Recycle Rare Earth Metals and Electronics with GLE Scrap
By recycling and reusing rare earth metals, we can:
- Decrease environmental destruction caused by toxic e-waste and mining
- Reduce the likelihood of rare earth element bioaccumulation
- Support an economy centered around recycled rare earth metals
Do you have rare earth metals you would like to scrap and recycle? At GLE Scrap, we offer environmentally-friendly electronics recycling services that will help you turn your trash into cash.
Want to learn more about scrapping metal?
Check out the best scrap metal items you can recycle.