5 On Your Side

RTP company cashes in with recycled electronics

Posted July 15, 2013

— How much of what you use do you recycle, and how much goes in into the trash? It's estimated 75 percent of what we use could be recycled, and going extreme green is big business and big money for some companies.

In Research Triangle Park, Global Electric Electronic Processing (GEEP) is mining unwanted electronics for precious metals.

"This is where you'll find gold and silver and copper and so forth," said GEEP's Joe Wood.

Piles of laptops, tablets and cellphones are recycled and processed at GEEP's massive RTP plant.

Some of the items look barely used. 

GEEP contracts with businesses and universities to buy their recyclable items at bulk, then they sell the parts – bin after bin after bin of valuable parts. They handle as many as 10,000 laptops a week and up to 3,000 cellphones a month. 

The tiny, shiny pieces can contain gold, silver, copper and other valuable elements. A whole barrel full is worth about $2,000. RTP company cashes in on electronic waste RTP company cashes in on electronic waste

"It's taking that out of the landfill," Wood pointed out.

GEEP finds a way to recycle all of it – bales of plastics, computers and monitors, even bubble wrap and wire. Wood says 99 percent of everything that comes into his plant can be recycled.

GEEP also has a pretty intense data wiping center to delete files from the electronics before they are recycled. The same system is used by the Department of Defense. Computers can spend up to 12 hours in a wipe, going through the process as many as seven times.


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  • dacoty Jul 17, 2013

    i wonder how many chemicals it takes to separate the gold and copper from a motherboard

    just a guess, but I think just 2. Hydrochloric Acid and Nitric Acid. will dissolve gold and when it dries up, it will leave behind gold dust.

  • heard-it-all-before Jul 16, 2013

    i wonder how many chemicals it takes to separate the gold and copper from a motherboard

  • whatelseisnew Jul 16, 2013

    I take all of my broken electronics to the Wake County recycle center. Someday my analog T.V. will go there. Company I used to work for used to do its own recycling of electronic components to recover the gold from circuit boards and other parts. I think they still do that.