Well aside from the fact that you definitly take less material from nature, I am sure there are plenty of studies on energy use.
Taking aluminum as an example, to reuse it, all they have to do is go around and collect the stuff from cans and what not and then melt it down for whatever(simply put anyway, maybe some sorting in there etc). To get it from nature, they have to mine it from buaxite, refine it(this takes an absolute ton of electricity; there are plants that can go through something like 8000 homes worth of electricity in a single night), and then ship it to where ever. Another interesting thought is that Aluminum ends up being a bit more local in this case as there are only a few bauxite mines around the world. So in the case of stuff like metal, I would say that recycling absolutly saves hard resources and energy.
Anyway, electronic scrapping and recycling is big business now a days. Getting precious metals out of the boards and such.
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