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Switzerland flushes $2m worth of gold down the toilet every year

A recent study commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment has found that roughly 43 kg (95 lbs) of gold — about $2m worth at current market value — passes through the country’s wastewater in the average year.

After examining 64 water treatment plants, researchers concluded that the gold is likely runoff from Swiss gold refineries and watchmakers.

Which makes sense considering…

A staggering 70% of the world’s gold supply is refined there.

Gold is to Switzerland what wine is to France — or what crushing student debt is to America. In a given year, between 1.5 and 2.5 metric tons of raw gold are imported there, purified, and made into gold bars.

Residual waste

Due to this massive volume, all the tiny, almost imperceptible flakes of gold that are flushed down the drain with other forms of waste add up to a pretty substantial amount. And it’s not just gold: the waterways also contain 3k kg (6.5k lbs) of silver valued at $1.8m.

But don’t catch a flight to Switzerland yet, researchers have found that these riches are so intermingled with poop and sludge that it’s not actually possible to recover them.

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