Kathleen Smith of the US Geological Survey says that it is possible to mine human waste for metals such as silver and gold. Earlier this year, Paul Westerhoff at Arizona State University in Tempe said that mining human shit “would be worth about $13 million for its copper, iron, palladium and other metals.” We’re shitting money, people.
Aviva Rutkin at New Scientist:
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To make a little money, you might have to get your hands dirty. What we flush down the toilet could be a goldmine for anyone who finds the right way to process it.
When sewage reaches the treatment plant, chemicals and microorganisms are used to separate out some components like sugars and grease. About half of the remaining sludge becomes fertiliser, while the rest is incinerated or dumped in landfill.
But chemicals used in industrial mining could pull metals out of human waste streams, say Kathleen Smith of the US Geological Survey and her team.