Some Facts About Copper Recycling

Copper recycling provides key environmental and economic benefits. History says the first metals found during human development were copper, gold, silver and tin. The oldest civilizations used the copper’s easy to produce feature about 10,000 years ago. The period of human history from the 5th to the 3rd-millennium b.c. is called the copper age. Numerous craft shops were producing this metal.

In alchemy, copper was associated with femininity symbolized by the goddess Venus and marked with the sign ♀. The first mirrors were made of copper. Roman Empire was the largest pre-industrial copper producer with an annual production of 15,000 tonnes.

Copper is a relatively soft metal and it can be well-shaped. As excellent wiring of heat and electricity, this metal is widely used in the technique. It is also on the list of metals for making coins. As a poorly reactive heavy metal, copper falls into semi-precious metals. 

Copper is the ingredient of alloys, such as bronze and brass. Brass with a high concentration of copper looks similar to gold and is common in jewellery making. Sulfate ores serve for copper extraction for the industry. 

Importance of Copper Recycling for the Environment 

Copper is a basic element necessary for the health of plants and animals. It rarely exists in an elemental state which is why it’s recognized as a mineral. As with other metals, there are significant environmental benefits to copper recycling. This includes the redirection of scrap and reduced energy requirements for the conservation of natural resources. 

Processing recycled copper requires much less energy than processing new copper from ore. This saves 85-90 per cent of energy demand. For example, the energy for processing recycled copper is 85 per cent less than the processing of new copper from stainless ore. In terms of conservation, copper is a non-renewable source, although people consume only 12 per cent of known reserves. Increased manufacturing of electrical products with low recycling rates causes real environmental challenge. This trend is changing for the better, however, through an electronics recycling initiative. 

Copper is one of the Main Targets for Scrap Yards

Copper is highly valued for scrap recycling operations. A little more than one-half of recycled copper scrap derives from machine scraping. The rest are post-consumer scraps such as electrical cables, old radiators and water pipes.

In 2019 Australia was the world’s largest producer of copper (5% of the world’s production).

Where to Find Copper for Recycling

For scrap metal yards, sources are electrical cables, copper flickering, old radiators and plumbing works. 

Copper from buildings is crucial. We will present some estimations.

A family house of about 2,100 square meters contains copper in the following quantities:

195 kilograms – wire for the building

68 kilograms – water pipes, fittings, valves

24 kilograms – brass plumbing

47 kilograms – built-in devices

12 kilograms – hardware for builders

10 kilograms – other wires and pipes

Average multifamily unit of 1,000 square meters: 

125 kilograms – wire for the building

82 kilograms – water pipes, fittings, valves

20 kilograms – brass plumbing

38 kilograms – built-in devices

6 kilograms – hardware for builders

7 kilograms – other wires and pipes

Copper content associated with household appliances can be generalized as follows:

52 kilograms – air conditioning

21 kilogram unit heat pump

5.0 kilograms – dishwasher

2.0 kilograms- fridge/freezer

4.4 kilograms – laundry washing machine

2.7 kilograms – stretcher

2.3 kilograms – remover

2.0 kilograms – laundry dryer

Copper combined with other materials, such as can or round-iron, can be more economical. A scrap of this kind is cheaper than uncontaminated copper. 

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