Innovation That Matters

Process turns waste into gold | Photo source Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Biotechnology solution turns waste into valuable metals


Mint Innovation, based in Auckland, New Zealand, has developed a biotechnology ‘recovery’ solution which turns waste into valuable metals. The solution works by using chemicals and microorganisms to bind and concentrate these valuable metals.

The solution is also environmentally good as Mint Innovation sources these valuable metals from waste electronics  found in landfills. For example, the company sources metals from printed circuit boards used in electronics such as mobile phones, computers and TV’s. These circuit boards contain gold and copper but also consist of hazardous materials and are often not recycled correctly. Once these circuit boards are sourced, they are shredded into a fine powder and dissolved into a solution. Metal-eating microorganisms are then added to the solution which works like a sponge, soaking up metals such as gold.

While other existing metal extractions use processes involving dangerous gases, Mint Innovation is developing a solution that is gentle to the environment and at a low-cost. Furthermore, in February 2018 Mint Innovation partnered with Remarkit, a company that collects e-waste to help sources the waste from landfill sites. Together they are building a metal recovery plant due to open in 2019 to apply their biotechnology solution on a larger scale.

Other waste innovations include a process that repurposes food waste to keep farm produce fresh. Another example is a type of concrete that is strengthened using extracts from waste vegetables.



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