The roads of Essex are literally paved in gold, and so are the roads of London and other major cities too. In fact any place that has modern cars with catalytic converters regularly driving along its roads, which are contributing to a build up of valuable metals. This is because a catalytic converter is made from precious metals such as Platinum. Rhodium and Paladium and exudes a small amount of these elements in the exhaust fumes of the car which settle onto the road surface, pavements and even street furniture.
One waste removal and recycling company, Veolia Environment, is intending to harvest this precious metallic crop from the streets of the UK’s major cities. A factory has already been built at Ling Hall in Warwickshire which will use a high tech process to extract the precious metals which come out of car exhausts and which are gathered up via it’s street cleaning processes.
The company says this is a worthwhile business in countries that have expensive landfill. They hope to double the revenue from recycling Platinum and other valuable metals to 5 billion Euros and are looking at new methods to recycle the tons of refuse it collects from each other.
Recycling platinum from streets driven by increased demand
The demand for Palladium, Platinum and Rhodium have increased significantly after mines in South Africa, the main source of these metals, have gone on strike and because of the increasing use of catalytic converters in new cars.
The company currently makes around £100,000 from this operation which means it can charge less for its street-cleaning services, which it uses to gather the raw materials that are recycled and from which the metals will be extracted.
Not that you would want to take to the streets of London or go skip diving in Dagenham looking for Platinum, you will after all require quite sophisticated equipment to make it worthwhile.