According to Japan's Environment Ministry, an impressive 210,000 metric-tons (231,485-ton) of metal was recovered in 2020 by specialist companies that operate as "urban miners." The aim is to increase the amount gathered to 420,000 tons by 2030.
Tons of disused electronic equipment that are wastefully dumped every year, Discarded mobile phones and television sets, computer motherboards and refrigerators, microwave ovens, car components and countless other household items contain varying amounts of gold and silver, lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper and zinc. They provide key components of batteries and high-tech electronics and can be reused if processed properly.
So much is discarded every year that a 2020 estimate suggested that there could be as much as 6,800 tons of discarded gold alone in Japan, which is more than the known deposits still waiting to be mined in South Africa.