Sustainable and recyclable

The copper industry is committed to sustainability and is exemplary among industries committed to reducing the environmental impact of their activities. Today, one third of the energy used in modern European copper production is spent on environmental protection measures.

Copper companies emit less than 0.15 per cent of the world’s total annual CO2 emissions (about 35 billion tonnes of CO2). At the same time, the copper industry consumes only about 0.1 per cent of the world’s total annual final energy consumption (about 375 billion GJ) and recycles almost three billion m3 of water per year.

In recent years, industry and consumers have increasingly focused on the entire supply chain and life cycle when considering the environmental impact of products.

Copper is a key material in the circular economy and decarbonisation.

Copper is a durable material that can be recycled again and again without any loss of quality or properties: For copper, around 50 percent of EU demand is met through recycling – the highest figure worldwide.

Copper is an important component of renewable energies and can help improve the ecological footprint:  Products containing copper tend to work more efficiently, as copper is the best base conductor for heat and electricity. The use of copper helps reduce CO2 emissions and lowers the amount of energy needed to generate electricity.

Carrier metal copper

Metals are strategic to Europe’s value chains and play an important role in decarbonisation. Copper is a “carrier metal” for a wide range of other non-ferrous metals: refining and recycling copper is therefore Europe’s most important way to access precious and critical metals. Modern recyclers are able to recover more than 20 metals from complex copper products and applications. Copper metallurgy is the process of choice for recycling electronic waste and other complex products.

M.A. Reuter et al. (2019): Challenges of the Circular Economy - A material, metallurgical and product design perspective. Annual Review of Materials Research, 49, 253-274. E. Verhoef, G. Dijkema, M.A. Reuter (2004): Process knowledge, system dynamics and metal ecology. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 8(1-2), 23-43

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