Canadian-based start-up EnviroLeach has completed testing of its process to recycle tin from electronic waste. The company recovered 90% of the contained metal in lab-scale tests.

Solders make up nearly half of all tin use, a significant proportion of which end up on printed circuit boards (PCBs). At the end of their life, electronics can be recycled at smelters. However, most focus on the recovery of gold, silver, palladium and copper. According to EnviroLeach, tin makes up “a significant proportion of the overall potential economic value” of PCBs.

Now, EnviroLeach believes that it can recover this tin. The company has completed lab-scale tests that show that its hydrometallurgical process can recover 90% of the tin. Smelters could then process the concentrated tin product as normal.

Our view: The recovery of tin from end-of-life electronics is important to the sustainable future of the tin industry. Processes such as EnviroLeach’s are likely to become more common as consumers push for more environmentally responsible products. Currently around 16% of refined tin metal is from recycled sources.