A unique pair of platinum rings with a retail value of around £1,200 have been made entirely from the precious metal recovered from obsolete pharmaceuticals. The recycled jewellery, each weighing around 4.5g, are 100% pure platinum and were ‘mined’ by resource management company Veolia. Working in partnership with pharmaceutical firm Accord Healthcare, this high-quality recovered platinum is being reprocessed into new drugs.
A large amount of today’s leading specialist medications contain traces of precious metals. In common with all pharmaceutical products, medications have a limited shelf-life and, after this expires, must be sent for secure destruction. Using the latest recycling innovations, scientists at Veolia’s hazardous waste facility in Ellesmere Port can now remove the precious metals by applying a two-step recovery process to recover the precious metal for re-use.
In modern day society precious metals are at the heart of the technology and gadgets that we take for granted. In their natural form the ores that produce these metals are running out. To meet this demand Veolia is working on a number of other projects to recover platinum, palladium and rhodium from different difficult to treat waste streams.
Kevin Hurst, Chief Operating Officer – Industrial Customers, Veolia UK said: “This work really shows that we need to look at all waste materials to see what hidden value we can extract. This innovative collection of tiny amounts of platinum has now enabled us to create something that is unique. As mining has a significant impact on the environment, recovery techniques that maximise reuse make sound economic-sense in the highly volatile metals market. It also lowers emissions as each gram of recovered platinum saves 14kg of CO2 compared to extracting ore.”
The rings were developed as part of Veolia’s wider Imagine 2050 report launch. The report highlights the wide range of challenges we need to tackle in the near-distant future, including: population growth, resource scarcity and the ever increasing consumer demands on energy, waste and water, while reducing carbon emissions and demonstrating how sustainability and technology advances will shape resource efficiency. It found that in the pharmaceutical and chemical industry alone there is £805 million worth of hidden value in unutilised resources.
To highlight the success of the project, Veolia commissioned E. Wolfe & Co in London, to design the two rings, chosen to symbolise the circular economy – a concept which focuses on ‘closing the loop’ by reusing resources rather than throwing them away.