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Europe leads the world in copper recycling

Archiv – Global | According to a report issued from the International Copper Study Group (ICSG), Europe is the only region in the world in which the use of recycled copper increased in 2008. While manufacturing of semi-finished products declined and the commodities markets fell in the emerging global recession, the economic climate in 2008 did not encourage recycling in most major copper-using regions. Global | According to a report issued from the International Copper Study Group (ICSG), Europe is the only region in the world in which the use of recycled copper increased in 2008. While manufacturing of semi-finished products declined and the commodities markets fell in the emerging global recession, the economic climate in 2008 did not encourage recycling in most major copper-using regions.
However, Europe (including Russia) met 43 % of its demand from recycling compared with 41.3 % in 2007. Today, with growth reported in most sectors in 2010, demand for copper remains high and recycling will continue to play a key part in meeting it.
Europe (including Russia) is the only major copper-using region to have reported such an increased proportion of recycled copper. The increase to 43 % from 41.3% in 2007 means that 2.5 million tonnes of recycled copper were used in the region in 2008. Furthermore, looking at only those countries that are full members of the European Union, the rate went from 38 % in 2007 to 40 % in 2008. Secondary refined production increased from 800 kt to 857 kt, while direct-melt use declined from 1,242 kt to 1,150 kt.
The actual tonnage of scrap used decreased from 2,042 kt in 2007 to to 2,007 kt in 2008, but that drop was eclipsed by the estimated decrease in semis production, resulting in the growth in the proportion of recycling input.
Worldwide, the increased usage of recycled copper reached 20 % over five years, but saw a slight decline in 2008 (2.6 % down on 2007). The slight drop of 5.2% was due to the decline in recasting of “new scrap” (machining scrap fed straight back into the production cycle). The global recession affected developed countries and the fall in the price of refined copper also limited the need for on-site recasting.
In 2008 this type of recycling suffered from a drop in the manufacture of semi-finished products in most manufacturing countries (e.g. the United States, Japan, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, South Korea and France). On the other hand, the production of secondary copper (copper recycled from collecting end-of-life products) saw an increase: + 3 % compared with 2007, an increase of 49 % since 2002.
Usage remains very high despite the recession
Despite the recession affecting most copper-using countries in 2008, 23.5 million tonnes of copper were used worldwide, almost the equivalent of 2007 levels (-2%). Prized for its unique properties as having the best electrical and thermal conductivity of any commonly used metal as well as its durability and antimicrobial properties, copper is a key material for innovation in a number of sectors: renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, sustainable building and transport systems.
Details of the quantities consumed by the largest users of recycled copper are: China, 2.4 million tonnes (38 % of its total use), the United States, 950,000 tonnes; Japan, 790,000 tonnes; and Germany 715,000 tonnes.
Unlike most other materials, copper can be recycled again and again without losing its properties or performance: recycled copper remains identical to primary copper no matter how many times it is recycled.

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