Initially, urban mining’s scope was limited to recovering precious metals from E-waste, but at present the scope of urban mining has broadened to include buildings, infrastructure, cars, metal, and anything you can find in a city’s landfill. Metals such as gold, silver, copper, palladium, steel, aluminum, and others are being extracted from urban mining.

According to the blog from Greentec, 5 grams of gold is extracted from 1 ton of gold ore and 150 grams of gold can be mined from 1 ton of cellphones. Similarly, the global electronics industry requires 320 tons of gold and 7,500 tons of silver. Therefore, instead of extracting metals and minerals from natural resources, urban mines can help to supply raw materials for various industries. 

The growing population and increased disposable income have boosted the use of home appliances, mobile phones, and other electrical and electronic appliances. Furthermore, the rapidly growing manufacturing sector, increasing demand for houses and commercial buildings, and renovation of old buildings have resulted in the growth of landfills. Disposable of this growing landfill is a major environmental concern as many of the times, material disposed of in landfills may contain harmful chemicals and hazardous materials, which can have adverse effects on human health. In developed countries, the growing use of battery-operated appliances has resulted in a major problem of disposal of batteries. Urban mining is a better solution for the disposal of landfill, and one can practice sustainable development. Recycling of metals for successfully recovering raw materials from urban landfills and a systematic recycling approach with effective recycling can help many companies in monetary terms.

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According to the World Bank, about 75% of the global population resides in middle-income countries, which is expected to increase by 1.0% annually. Also, the migration of people from rural to urban areas has significantly increased in the past few years, which is the main reason for the rapid growth in urbanization. More than 80% of global GDP is generated through cities as urban areas develop at high rates. Infrastructure and industrial development are key factors contributing to the rapid growth of the middle-income population. All the above-mentioned factors result in the increasing use of various electronic appliances, electrical equipment, and residential housing. Growth in these industries is contributing significantly to the industrial waste in landfills as well, therefore, the demand for urban mining is expected to grow significantly.

Additionally, the stringent environmental regulations and growing impact of landfills on the environment have created awareness among people. Therefore, many manufacturers have decided to practice sustainable development to achieve net zero targets. Non-governmental entities such as United Nations (UN) have laid down sustainable development goals for their members to act against climate change. Also, various NGOs have been collecting E-waste so that people can protect their data from their personal electronic devices.


Although the pandemic resulted in the disruption of the supply chain due to the lack of availability of labor and transportation facilities which resulted in fluctuation in the prices of raw materials, which further resulted in increasing use of electronic devices such as phones, laptops, and smart devices. Therefore, the urban mining market is expected to witness growth post-Covid-19, which will result in higher mining activities in urban mining. The market has been revolutionized in a way as various NGO’s and governments of various countries have laid down stringent emission regulations and are offering subsidies for recycling waste from various industries.

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