Turning Waste into Gold

Humans started mining gold about 6,000 years ago. That's when this love story began. 

According to the World Gold Council, about 200,000 tonnes of gold has been mined throughout history, of which two-thirds has been mined since 1950. Because gold is a metal, almost all of this metal is still around in one form or another. If we compile all available gold into a large cube, each side of this golden cube would be about 21 meters tall.  

Gold Demand 

Today, every quarter, the world consumes about 1,000 tonnes of gold. Roughly 75-80% of that gold goes to Asia, 10% goes to Europe, 10% to North America, 5% to South America. In Europe, the top consumers are the UK, Russia, Turkey and Italy. 

About 500 tonnes, or 50% of that gold consumption is used for jewelry. Another 20% is held in private investment, 20% in official holdings, and the remainder is below ground holdings and other uses.  

Gold Supply

Every quarter about 1200 tonnes of gold is produced. About 75% of that gold is mined, 25% is recycled. 

Research consistently shows the damages that come with mining. Mined gold and platinum use a lot of water, energy and emit Carbon Dioxide (CO2). For instance, 1 gram of mined gold consumes 250+ liters of water and emits ~36 thousand grams of CO2. 1 gram of mined platinum consumes 700+ liters of water. 

Now let's compare this to recycling. 

1 gram of mined gold uses 67kWh of energy while 1 gram of recycled gold uses 2kWh of energy. Recycled platinum is even more impactful as platinum production is 3 times more energy intensive than gold. 1 gram of mined platinum uses ~167kWh of energy while 1 gram of recycled platinum uses 3kWh of energy.

Finally, because recycled gold is derived from old jewelry or electronics, on average, the density of the valuable material is higher and the waste is lower. There is 4 times more gold in recycled gold sources than in gold mines. 

Recycling is the source of gold supply that is most immediately responsive to the gold price and economic shocks. The majority of recycled gold - around 90% - comes from jewellery, with gold extracted from technology providing the remaining 10%. 

The future is recycled. 

The best gold and platinum recyclers in the world reduce the negative environmental emissions by 99% (as compared to mining). 

Because of the mass consumerism over the last decades, the waste mountains of old electronics could become one of the largest precious metals mines in the world. The rapid global rise in technology, tied in with consumer pressures for upgrades in functionality and design, has generated advanced electronics with short lifespans. A consequence of this is the production of electronic waste (e-waste) which, in 2018 amounted to 50 million tonnes, with a projected annual growth of 3–5%, three times more than for other waste streams. It is estimated that recycling one ton of mobile phones could produce on average 130 kg of copper, 3.5 kg of silver, 0.34 kg of gold and 0.14 kg of Palladium.

Why is that exciting for Generation Collection? 

A nice gold ring could weigh about 19 grams. If produced from recycled gold then that single ring means 686kg of CO2 avoided, 12998 liters of water waste avoided, 1225 kW of energy usage avoided. This impact is equivalent to the CO2 emissions of 11400 light bulbs, the daily water usage of 10 people, or 111400 cell phone charges. And because all Generation items are 100% circular, your Generation gold can be used and reused, in perpetuity.

Generation provides such environmental impact statistics for each piece of jewelry. The numbers used in the impact calculations are based on the latest research in the field. 

The jewelry industry is poised for a glittering future. Annual global sales of €148 billion are expected to grow at a healthy clip of 5-6% each year, totaling €250 billion by 2020. Consumer appetite for jewelry, which was dampened by the global recession, now appears more voracious than ever. 

However, now with more urgency than ever, we need to make smart choices. Recycled metals are the way to go. 

Let's all be part of the solution.