Figure of the month: 300

News Arnulf Hinkel, Finanzjournalist – 01.10.2018

Not only is gold gaining importance in modern everyday technologies, it is also disposed of in ever larger quantities by its owners when a tech device has outlived its usefulness. Or, as David Goldman put it in CNN Money: "Your defective iPhone is a gold mine – literally". Well, this may be a bit of an exaggeration given the actual value, but it is a fact that a ton of old smartphones contains 300 times more gold than a ton of gold ore.

A smartphone contains an average of 0.034 grams of gold

Every broken or discarded smartphone is worth some €1.18 simply because of its gold content. But that's not all: smartphones also contain an average of 16 grams of copper, 0.35 grams of silver and 0.00034 grams of platinum, increasing the value of a discarded smartphone by another €0.50. However, these figures are averages that only apply to standard smartphones. There are also devices that contain significantly more gold. The front-runner among them is the iPhone 5 Black Diamond handset produced in 2013 by the English luxury designer Stuart Hughes for a Chinese businessman, which was worth roughly €11.2 million at the time of delivery. Compared to this, the current Gold iPhone X Elite with an RRP of approximately €3.361 seems like a bargain.

Recycled Gold is an integral part of Apple's income

In its 2016 Annual Report, Apple stated it recovered 1,102 kilograms of gold from recycled iPhones, iPads and Macs last year, worth some US$40 million. In addition, the company recycled 2.2 million kg of aluminium, 1.5 million kg of copper and 3.300 kg of silver from these devices. It seems like the days when old computers and mobile phones were mere electronic waste are finally over. Against the backdrop of ever dwindling natural resources, that's a long overdue realisation.

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