People create 2.6 trillion pounds of garbage a year. The thing is that the vast majority of the 7.3 billion people on the face of this Earth don’t realize that they are throwing away perfectly commodifiable materials. There’s gold in them hills! The hills of garbage, trash and refuse.
Gold in Trash – Urban Mining
E-waste is waste created by consumer electronics, just in the U.S. consumers throw out enough cell phones every day to cover a football field. That Zach Morris cell phone cemetery is actually rich with a lot more than late 90s clichés. Most consumer electronics have silver, palladium and gold in them, but instead of recycling the 50 million tons of e-waste created in a year, we throw 85% of it into landfills. Ok, percentages can get pretty convoluted, so let’s put it into practical terms. From every ton of circuit boards 10 oz. of gold can be extracted which is almost ten times better than the 0.7 oz. of gold per ton of ore (and that’s the primary way gold is mined).
Pond scum is green and so is money
You remember that gross slimy green stuff that would stick to your legs when you went swimming as a child? Or the stuff that grew on the inside of your fish tank that you had to clean every week? Well, you can finally exact your revenge by eating that green goop or even better feeding it to your plants. Or you could just sell it. A pound of spirulina, which is a type of pond scum that can even be grown in tanks on roofs, sells for around $26 a pound. Pond scum or algae can be composted and used for fertilizer.
Nine Dragons Paper
So you might not be able to do this yourself since it’s already been done, but meet the lady that beat you to it, Zhang Yin and her 1.5 billion dollar net worth. They say necessity is the mother of invention and Yin is the mother of innovatively feeding necessity, because when she moved to the United States she noticed the significant paper-waste. Since China doesn’t have many trees (but it makes up for that in personality), Yin thought she could take this paper-waste and send it to China to be recycled. Her endeavor made her a small fortune, which is ironically printed on paper itself. Paper Inception!
High Class Dumpster diving
This is the second entry that revolves around e-waste, but the way it is sourced and recycled is very different. There are professional dumpster divers that target electronics manufacturers, corporate offices and any other type of establishment that routinely throw out. They only pick up things that are repairable they fix them and then sell them. People have found things such as unopened printers (that had just been discontinued), unused paper and toner, even high end industrial equipment that was replaced due to age or updates. If the diver is lucky and falls upon a shop closing down he can score brand new items, still in their original packaging, pristine and undamaged.
Do you know any other ways trash is used to turn a profit? Let me know in the comment section below. Oh and if you didn’t notice most of these trash to treasure schemes are really good for the environment…Added Bonus!