It seems unbelievable, but it’s true: The trash ends with significant amounts of gold and silver every year in Switzerland. The explanation? More simple than you would have thought.What if in a «normal» country of the world the sewers are filled with sewage and dirt? In Switzerland, only three tons of silver and 43 kg of gold have been detected last year from sewage treatment plants amounting to approximately CHF 3 million (EUR 2,6 million).
Do not be in a hurry to put into your mind elaborate necklaces and wedding rings that are thrown into the basin with the first marital malpractice. The study states that tiny quantities are more likely to come from watchmaking houses and from pharmaceutical and chemical industries that use these metals in the production process of their products.
We are talking about very small levels of gold or silver, in micrograms or even nanograms, but when the additions represent a significant amount.
Wealth in the unclaimed
The researchers are now studying whether it is worth the cost of extracting these metals and re-using them, or whether it is better to go for burning, as is now the case.
Highest levels of gold were found in western Switzerland where there are many watchmaking factories that use these precious metals to decorate their expensive watches.
In addition to silver and gold, there were traces of rare metals such as gadolinium – which is used in medical imaging.
The findings show that wealthy Switzerland can find wealth in the most unusual places.
Swiss researchers, however, point out in their study that these concentrations of metals in recycled water are perfectly legal to sanitary regulations and are removed in time before the water becomes more drinkable.