2021年5月14日 - 科技

本文摘要:On a recent, rather stormy Tuesday afternoon, former U.S. vice president Al Gore and an assortment of Silicon Valley executives assembled in an unlikely spot—Osceola, Arkansas—to break ground on a promising new venture.最近一个暴雨如注的周二下午,美国前副总统艾尔o戈尔和一众硅谷高管挤满在一个他们或许不大可能经常出现的地方——阿肯色州奥西奥拉市,参与一家很有前途的新企业的动工仪式。


On a recent, rather stormy Tuesday afternoon, former U.S. vice president Al Gore and an assortment of Silicon Valley executives assembled in an unlikely spot—Osceola, Arkansas—to break ground on a promising new venture.最近一个暴雨如注的周二下午,美国前副总统艾尔o戈尔和一众硅谷高管挤满在一个他们或许不大可能经常出现的地方——阿肯色州奥西奥拉市,参与一家很有前途的新企业的动工仪式。Backed by $35 million in financing, California-based startup BlueOak Resources is building a brand-new facility in this city of 8,000 or so, but it’s not to manufacture a new high-tech gadget. Quite the opposite, in fact: BlueOak’s new operation will be what it calls the nation’s first “urban mining” refinery dedicated to recovering valuable metals such as gold, silver, copper and palladium from the growing mountains of e-waste currently threatening to overwhelm the planet.在超过3,500万美元融资的反对下,总部坐落于加州的蓝橡树资源回收公司(BlueOak Resources)打算在这座享有约8,000人口的小城建设一家新的工厂,但它要生产的并不是某种高科技新的玩意。恰恰相反:在电子垃圾堆积如山,或许要水淹全球的大背景下,蓝橡树的新设施将沦为全美第一家致力于重复使用金、银、铜和钯等贵重金属的“城市矿业(urban mining)”冶炼厂。

“Every day, U.S. consumers dispose of enough cell phones to cover 50 football fields,” said Privahini Bradoo, BlueOak’s chief executive.蓝橡树公司CEO普里瓦伊尼o布拉多说道:“美国消费者每天拿走的手机不足以覆盖面积50个橄榄球场。”Although between 7% and 10% of the world’s gold and 30% of the silver produced goes into electronics, only 15% of the 50 million tons of e-waste created globally each year undergoes any recycling, Bradoo said. Instead, the vast majority of devices are dumped in landfills or exported to countries where e-waste is hand-picked over open fires.布拉多回应,尽管全世界生产的7%到10%的黄金和30%的银都变为了电子产品部件,但在全球每年产生的5,000万吨电子垃圾中,仅有15%经过某种形式的重复使用处置。绝大多数设备都被弃置放垃圾填埋场,或者被出口到海外,最后用火场烧毁。The city of Guiyu, China—widely considered the world’s e-waste capital—receives some 4,000 tons of the stuff per hour. It also has the highest-ever recorded level of dioxins, and 90% of its residents have neurological damage, Bradoo said. “Not only is it a humanitarian disaster, but when we looked at the value contained in e-scrap, it was shocking,” she added.外界普遍认为,坐落于中国广东省汕头市的贵屿镇是全球电子垃圾之都。


”With support from the Arkansas Teachers’ Retirement Fund, a consortium of European and domestic investors, and the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, BlueOak’s new refinery will process 15 million pounds of electronic scrap per year initially, rapidly expanding from there. Production will begin by the end of 2015, bringing 50 technical jobs to the area. Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers is one of BlueOak’s major investors.蓝橡树公司打算建设的新冶炼厂取得了来自阿肯色州教师卸任基金(Arkansas Teachers’ Retirement Fund),一个由欧洲和美国国内投资者构成的财团,以及阿肯色研发金融管理局(Arkansas Development Finance Authority)的反对。这座工厂计划在最初阶段每年处置1,500万磅电子废料,随后将很快不断扩大。这家冶炼厂将于2015年末月投产,预计将为当地带给50个技术工作岗位。凯鹏华盈风投公司(Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers)是绿橡树的主要投资者之一。

‘For every ounce, 30 tons of waste’“铁矿一盎司黄金不会生产30吨垃圾”“Developing a 21st-century, high-quality recovery process for the valuable materials in electronic waste is very important,” said Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Urban Program.“研发一种面向21世纪,针对电子垃圾蕴藏的贵重材料的高品质重复使用流程,具备十分最重要的意义,”供职于美国自然资源维护委员会(Natural Resources Defense Council)都市的资深科学家艾伦o赫什科维茨说道。E-waste is the fastest-growing component of the municipal solid waste stream, and given all the precious metals, valuable plastics and recyclable glass electronics contain, “the fact that these are being routinely discarded makes no sense,” Hershkowitz said.电子垃圾是城市固体废弃物中快速增长最慢的组成部分,鉴于电子产品包括了大量贵金属、贵重塑料和可回收玻璃,赫什科维茨说道,“它们遭习惯性地弃置这个事实真是不合情理。”Indeed, roughly 10 ounces of gold can be extracted from every ton of printed circuit boards, Bradoo said; you’d need to process 100 tons of gold ore or more to get the same amount.布拉多说道,事实上,从每吨印刷电路板中可萃取约10盎司黄金。

而要取得完全相同数量的黄金,人们最少必须处置100吨金矿石。More to the point, “for every ounce of gold that has to be mined in the field, we produce 30 tons of waste” including mercury and cyanide, Hershkowitz said. “Compare that with recovering an ounce of gold from electronic waste—you’d eliminate that gigantic ecological burden.”更加最重要的是,“在矿山铁矿一盎司黄金不会生产30吨废物,”其中还包括汞和氰化物,赫什科维茨说道。“相比之下,从电子垃圾中重复使用黄金,可以避免如此极大的生态开销。

”There are, of course, U.S. companies already out there that specialize in refurbishing and recycling used electronics—Sims Recycling and ECS Refining are two larger examples. Typically, though, such companies dismantle unrefurbishable devices either manually or with automated shredders to recover their aluminum, steel and plastic but ship the circuit boards to smelters overseas, Bradoo said.当然,早已有美国公司在专门从事整修和重复使用二手电子产品业务,Sims Recycling和ECS Refining是其中两个规模较小的例子。布拉多说道,这类公司一般来说使用手动方式或自动粉碎机来拆毁不能装修的设备,以便重复使用它们的铝、钢和塑料,但电路板则被载运至海外的冶炼厂。It’s those circuit boards where most of the high-value metals reside, she added. In order to reclaim them in a sustainable way, BlueOak’s facility will take the boards, pulverize them further and put them through a high-temperature plasma-arc furnace.她补足说道,大多数贵重金属才是蕴藏在这些电路板之中。为了以可持续的方式重复使用贵重金属,蓝橡树公司的新工厂将接管这些电路板,更进一步消灭加工,然后把它们放进等离子电弧炉展开熔融。

‘Value recovery from every part of that chain’“从价值链的每个部分中重复使用价值”Europe has long been ahead of the United States in its e-waste solutions, thanks not just to government mandates and an emphasis on recycling but also to infrastructure already in place there.长久以来,欧洲的电子垃圾解决方案仍然领先于美国,某种程度是因为政府施行了涉及指令,企业推崇重复使用问题,还应当得益于早已做到的基础设施。“They had domestic secondary smelters that had the capital and the capability to redirect some of their capacity toward e-waste,” Bradoo said.布拉多说道:“欧洲一些国家的二级冶炼厂享有充裕的资本和技术能力,它们需要新的利用一些生产能力来处置电子垃圾。

”Even there, though, “there are no facilities we’re aware of that are dedicated to recovering precious metals from electronic scrap,” she said.不过,即使在欧洲,“目前也没专门从电子废料中重复使用贵金属的工厂,”她说道。Yet while BlueOak’s urban mining refinery may be “exactly the kind of facility that we need from an ecological perspective,” some key economic realities will have to be overcome, NRDC’s Hershkowitz said.然而,尽管蓝橡树公司的城市矿业厂“从生态的看作,也许是我们必须的那种设施,”但这家工厂还必须解决一些关键的经济现实,美国自然资源维护委员会的赫什科维茨说道。


“The challenge here is going to be getting the electronic waste to the facility, because right now only a fraction of electronic waste is effectively recovered for recycling,” he added. “From an economic perspective, we need government requirements, as they have in Europe, that obligate the consumer products companies to participate in funding the infrastructure to recover these materials for recycling or refurbishment.”“急需应付的挑战是,如何把电子垃圾送到这家工厂,因为目前只有一小部分电子垃圾被有效地重复使用再行利用,”他补足说道。“从经济角度来看,我们必须政府效仿欧洲的作法,强迫拒绝电子消费类公司出资修建用来重复使用利用或装修这些材料的基础设施。

”Initially, BlueOak will rely on suppliers that are already collecting and dismantling e-waste, but “our hope is that by creating more value in that value chain, that will promote the front-end recycling,” Bradoo said.在最初阶段,蓝橡树公司将依赖早已开始搜集和报废电子垃圾的供应商,但布拉多说道,“我们期望在这个价值链中建构更加多价值,以推展前端的重复使用利用。”The automotive industry is an inspiring model, she noted, with a recycling rate of about 95%. “That’s because you have value recovery from every part of that value chain,” she said. “An entire industry has focused on ensuring that there’s recycling.”她认为,作为一个鼓舞人心的典范,汽车行业的再循环比率目前已超过95%左右。“这是因为价值链的每个部分都有重复使用价值,”她说道。“整个行业都在专心致志地保证资源需要重复使用利用。

”Alternatively, much the way deposit-refund systems have been used successfully to encourage container recycling, it’s possible a similar scheme could be applied to electronics, she said.作为另一种自由选择,就像押金付款制度早已被顺利地用作希望容器重复使用一样,她说道,电子产品也许也可以应用于类似于方案。Either way, “we want the entire value chain to grow and to create an ecosystem that supports the overall recycling and recovery of as much value as possible from electronics so we don’t think of it as a waste stream,” Bradoo explained.无论采行哪种方式,布拉多说明说道,“我们都期望整个价值链很快快速增长,期望创立一个生态系统,以反对从电子产品中重复使用利用尽量多的价值。

这样一来,我们就仍然把它看作一个废物流。”‘We need to see real leadership’“我们必须看见确实的领导力”Approaches like BlueOak’s urban mining refinery “have the potential to be an important part of the solution, to recycle the materials embedded in these devices, reducing the demand for virgin materials and the energy needed to produce them,” said Gary Cook, a senior IT analyst with Greenpeace.像绿橡树公司城市矿业厂这类方式“未来将会沦为电子垃圾解决方案的最重要组成部分,它们需要重复使用映射电子设备的材料,从而增加对原生材料和生产这些材料所须要能源的市场需求,”绿色和平的组织(Greenpeace)资深IT分析师加里o库克说道。Greenpeace also wants to see more robust efforts from the electronics sector, Cook said, such as stronger take-back programs and a commitment to using recycled materials in electronics products.库克回应,绿色和平的组织还期望看见电子行业采行更加有力的措施,比如更加完备的重复使用计划,允诺用于再造材料生产电子产品。

But it starts at the top. “What we also need to see is real leadership from electronics manufacturers in creating products that are designed to have a longer life,” Cook said, citing the example of modular mobile phones such as Phonebloks and Project Ara, “and not designed for the dump in two to three years.”但这些希望必需由最高层首度推展。库克说道,“我们还必须看见电子产品制造商展现确实的领导力,必须它们设计、生产享有更长生命周期的产品。” 他还援引了模块化手机制造商 Phonebloks和 Project Ara的例子。“它们无法之后设计一些用于两三年就被迫荒废的产品。