Saving Kids and Precious Resources, One Set of Dentures At A Time

denture recycling program photo

Did you know that there are over 3,600,000 sets of dentures produced around the world every year? And did you know that each set contains around roughly US$25 of precious metals? But, around half of all the dentures produced simply end up being thrown onto the trash heap. That's more than a mouthful of wasted money and precious resources. Well, now the Japan Denture Recycling Association (JDRA) has decided to sink its teeth into this problem and take a bite out of the massive waste occurring, while at the same time helping kids in developing countries around the world. The JDRA has established a denture recycling network of over 200 locations throughout Japan, including dental offices, where people can drop off their unwanted dentures. The dentures are recycled and proceeds from the recovered precious metals are then donated to UNICEF and other organizations. To date, some 9 kg of gold and 6 kg of silver have been recovered, with resulting donations of around $140K to UNICEF and other organizations.

It's said that Japan has more gold and silver stored in things like metal fixtures in dentures and components for electronic equipment than even South Africa, with its huge gold mines, and Peru, where most of the silver originated. However, recycling of these rare materials is still not very widespread.

According to the "ecological rucksack" theory, every element that is mined has an equivalent material intensity value which is calculated based on the amount of materials required to produce one kilogram of that material. Rare metals such as gold have very high ecological rucksack values. The Wuppertal Institute calculated that for every kilogram of gold produced, around 540,000 kg of essential materials necessary for economic activities are used up, not to mention associated energy costs. Consequently, if all the gold we used was recycled, we could save something like 300 times the materials and energy used in mining new supplies.

So, the JDRA are killing two birds with one tooth, err stone. By recycling dentures they are helping to save resources and energy, and the donations that are resulting are helping children across the planet get a bigger bite of the resource pie.

Written by Midority of

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