Overview & Benefits Of Copper Recycling

Copper is one of the oldest known metals that have been used by different civilizations for over 10,000 years. This nonferrous metal is a good conductor of electricity. Besides the thermal and electrical conductivity, its essential properties of malleability and high ductility makes copper one of the most precious non-ferrous metals in high demand by industry, only after iron and aluminum.

The copper used by the ancient Romans was sourced from the Mediterranean island of Cypress. They termed this highly coveted ore as “aes Cyprium” which was translated into English as “metal of Cyprus”. The name was then shortened to cyprium, which was later changed to coprum. The term coprum was the genesis of the English word “copper”.

The metal is distributed throughout the earth’s crust and by far Chile is considered as the largest copper mining country. The country is accounted for producing around 35% of the world’s copper, followed by the United States that roughly produces 8% of the world’s copper supply.

Growing Demand Of Copper: Since the 20th century, a remarkable rise has been observed in the global demand for refined copper from 0.5 million tons to 17.1 million tons in 2006. The global mining production of copper for 2006 was approx. 17 million tons.

Now, to meet the rising demand of copper, recycling of the metal has become increasingly important to conserve the finite supply of the ore. Recycling is nowadays not a new concept as a number of things from aluminum drink cans to baked bean tins are reprocessed to manufacture new commodities. Similarly, copper water pipes, brass bathroom taps, electric cables and other copper-made products are too valuable commodities to be thrown out in the bin, ending up in the landfill. So, the best option is to recycle the products and to use the recovered copper in production of new commodities. The best thing is that products made by reprocessing copper retain the same properties of the virgin ore that has been mined or refined. Reprocessed copper contains as much as 90 percent of the new copper value. This makes it one of the best targets of the scrap metal recycling industry. You will be amazed to learn that of all the copper required around the globe, 34% comes from the process of recycling.

Environmental Importance of Recycling the Metal: Just like other essential metals, recycling of copper also has significant environmental benefits. The prime benefits include conservation of natural resource, solid waste diversion and reduction in energy requirement for processing. Let us provide you a detail picture to make you realize the environmental benefits of recycling the essential ore.

Energy Efficient: The energy required for recycling copper are as much as 85 to 90 percent less than what is needed to process new copper from virgin natural ore. While extracting copper from virgin natural resource, the energy consumed is around 100GJ/ton. However, in the process of recycling copper, much less energy is consumed, about 10G/ton, which is only 10% of the energy required for extraction. This considerable saving of energy results in the conservation of essential reserves of gas, oil or coal and also lessens the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

Environmental Friendly: During the process of mining and refining or purification of copper, gases like sulphur dioxide are emitted in the air that have harmful effects on the environment. However in the process of recycling very small amount of harmful gas is emitted.

Conservation: Copper is a non-renewable resource, although only 12% of the known copper resources have been mined. However, it is a finite resource and conserving the ore by reprocessing is the most sensible way of preserving the metal.

Economic Importance of Recycling the Ore: Ranking just behind Chile in production of copper, the US is largely self-sufficient in supplying copper. As mentioned before, the county produces about 8 percent of the world’s total copper supply and almost major portion of the production is derived from recycled material. In the year 2010, about 1.8 million metric tons of copper was processed by the US recyclers for export and domestic use, second only to aluminum among non-ferrous metals.

Where To Find Copper For Reprocessing?

Major sources of copper scrap are copper flashing, electric cable, plumbing works and old radiators. A good amount of copper is also sourced from building or constructions.

Since, now you are aware of the benefits of copper, think before you toss any copper made items in the scrapyard next time. It is best to take initiatives in recycling the metal to conserve the virgin oue for our future generation. Look for copper recycling companies who can help you to recover the metal effectively.

Fred Hoffman lives in Los Angeles, CA and has been in the reprocessing industry for over a decade. In this article he is presenting an Overview and sharing Benefits of Copper Recycling. Most of the information he has collected from metal recycling companies based in Los Angeles.
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