Updated August 29 at 7:42am

Turning waste into gold – literally

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

The jewelry industry doesn’t just throw away the used rags, floor mats or spent metal-plating solution involved in manufacturing.

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Turning waste into gold – literally

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The jewelry industry doesn’t just throw away the used rags, floor mats or spent metal-plating solution involved in manufacturing.

Because these materials often contain traces of the precious metals manufacturers work with, factories send their waste to reclamation experts like Advanced Chemical Co. in Warwick.

Originally a specialist in chemical plating for jewelry production, Advanced Chemical began pivoting to metal recovery under Gerald Smith Jr., son of the founder.

Smith saw basic manufacturing heading overseas in search of cheaper labor and realized the company would be better served by leveraging its expertise in chemical processes to avoid the fate of many other local jewelry producers.

“[Smith Jr.] was a brilliant chemist and started looking ahead at what else the company could do,” said John Antonacci, director of sales and marketing at Advanced Chemical. “He realized there are precious metals here in this process that can be reclaimed and that is what they started doing.”

In particular, Advanced Chemical found a niche in dealing with the hazardous chemical solutions used in metal plating.

Manufacturers sell Advanced Chemical their old plating solution in exchange for a share of whatever value can be extracted from the spent material. In addition to gold and silver, Advanced refines platinum, palladium and rhodium.

Last month, Advanced began offering customers the option of taking their share of the proceeds in 10-ounce silver bars instead of cash. For companies that work in silver, being paid in bars eliminates the complication of fluctuating metal values.

Advanced Chemical is also considering its own line of gold bars in the future, Antonacci said.

By moving into metal reclamation and refining, Advanced has been able to diversify outside of the jewelry industry and take advantage of electronics production, which has increasingly come to rely on precious metals.

In addition to plating solutions and materials from the jewelry industry, Advanced refines a wide array of material, including cathodes, wire, dental crowns, vacuum bags, polishing dust and sludges.

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