Silver and gold abounds in Swiss sewers

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In Switzerland, 95 pounds of gold are flushed away each year into the sewers, according to researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology who estimate the gold’s value to be almost $2 million each year. Since 70 percent of the world’s gold passes through Swiss gold-refining plants each year, thanks mostly to their watch-making trade, that’s a lot of wasted gold and other metals like palladium, platinum and silver going into the sewers. The study, commissioned by Switzerland’s Federal Office for the Environment, discovered the wasted metals, but now the big question is how to recover those lost gold mines. They could look to Japan for ideas, as they already extract precious metals from waste through burning, but investing in extraction infrastructure now could also help Switzerland become a leader in recovering these precious materials.