How do I improve my e-scrap returns?

Electronic scrap refining is a cornucopia of precious metal reclamation opportunities, with many electronics carrying traces of silver, gold and platinum, often all within the same device.

E-scrap refineries can recover precious metals from modern devices ranging from televisions to appliances, computers, phones and cameras, all of which contain valuable metals.

At QML Inc., we want to help you maximize the returns of all these precious metals from your electronic waste materials, and ensure you’re getting the most value from your electronics.

Getting the most out of the e-scrap refining process requires close attention to measurement and strict attention to detail.

Sort and estimate your electronic scrap

sort-and-estimate-your-electronic-scrapSorting electronic scrap according to source, quality, and potential precious metal content is a basic, but important step in making an accurate estimate of your likely e-scrap refining returns.

Cell phones, for instance, are known to use copper, silver, gold, and palladium, and computers contain gold, silver and platinum. Each cell phone will contain about .034 grams of gold, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Computer CPUs, on the other hand, may contain anywhere between .11 and .27 grams of gold.

Obviously, at these amounts, it takes large stockpiles of e-scrap to make recycling the material economical. But those stockpiles do exist. In 2013, people generated 3.14 million tons of e-waste in the U.S. Of this amount, only 1 million tons or 40 % was recycled. The rest was trashed – in landfills or incinerators, according to the EPA.

But precious metals aren’t the only valuable elements found in electronic waste and scrap. Indium, a by-product of zinc mining, is found in cell phones and flat screen monitors. The element’s price has risen in recent years, to 11.50 per troy ounce, approaching the price of silver, $14.61 per troy ounce, according to a report from

The availability of indium, mined exclusively abroad, primarily in China, could be in jeopardy in the near future as U.S. trade disputes with China continue.    

Estimate your returns by taking measurements and mass balance returns for each type of device. If you’ve gone through the process before, consulting historical results for patterns and deviations will help you narrow down your estimated returns.

There’s certainly value in your e-scrap. QML Inc. is dedicated to helping you realize as much of that value as possible.

Communicating with your electronics scrap refiner

Let your refiner know you’re taking an approach based on historic and/or estimated data, so you’re both on the same page.

Remember that while up-front costs, including smelter processing, may seem an obvious opportunity to save money, the strategy may cost you on the amount they’ll pay you for your returns.

Discuss terms with your refiner up-front, including making sure you or a trusted representative is able to supervise the process. Also, arrange for prompt payment after the materials are refined.


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