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No longer just an interesting idea, progress is being made on mining landfills for precious resources. We have a wasteful culture. Many things that still retain some value are thrown away. Junk yards were the first step, but they are small compared to the potential. Electronics contain gold and other precious minerals. Other, more common materials like steel, aluminum, and copper are also dumped in the form of appliances. When the cost of extracting the materials from the Earth exceed the cost of extracting the materials from a landfill, then it makes more sense to mine the landfill. Mining the landfill also reduces the size of the landfill, ironically making room for more things to be dumped. The process is complicated by the environmental and health concerns involved in unearthing a confused mix of our mess; but those are issues that can be resolved with proper considerations. The concept is gaining attention in Europe where land and resources are more valuable. Given sufficient economic incentives, the idea should become global.

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