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Commission resolute over copper scrap criteria

Europe – Despite not receiving the required majority from member states last year, the European Commission is declining to drop its end-of-waste proposal for a 2% limit on foreign materials in copper scrap.

The Commission is continuing to suggest the same threshold in a proposal to the Council of Ministers and European Parliament. Based on a technical report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the proposal is currently in the hands of European legislators. The draft underlines that the JRC ‘€˜concluded that 2% represents a safe environmental limit value on foreign materials for copper scrap to cease to be waste’€™.

The BIR world recycling organisation has estimated that upwards of 95% of the copper scrap processed and traded by its members would continue to fall under the ‘€˜waste’€™ classification if the 2% threshold were to be adopted. And a recent Italian study has asserted that copper with 2-5% impurities represents a ‘€˜valuable material for producers, especially smelters and refiners, often with no pre-treatment needed’€™.

As noted by ENDS Europe, it also raised the concern that scrap failing to meet the proposed criteria is most likely to end up on foreign markets with more lax environmental standards, thus potentially putting pressure on the European copper scrap industry.

According to Robert Voss, President of the European Metal Trade and Recycling Federation (Eurometrec), his organisation fully supports that the Council of the European Union come to an agreement on the proposed Council Regulation establishing criteria determining when copper scrap ceases to be waste, and he thanks those members states which have raised the issue of a 5% threshold rather than 2%. ‘€˜Crucially,’€™ he adds, ‘€˜Eurometrec would not want to see the Regulation fail to get support at the Council on account of the threshold; after all, one of the Regulation’€™s Recitals allows for review of the criteria.’€™

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