Copper is one of the few materials that can be recycled repeatedly without any loss of performance. As well as helping to satisfy the annual demand for copper, recycling conserves valuable natural resources, saves energy and reduces CO2 emissions.
Copper recycling contributes to a progressive move toward a more circular economy. However, the loop cannot be completely closed for two reasons. First, demand will continue to increase due to population growth, product innovation and economic development. Second, in most applications, copper stays in use for decades before being ready to recycle and use again. Consequently, the growing demand for copper will require a combination of raw materials coming from mines (primary copper), as well as from recycled materials (secondary copper). During the last decade about 35 percent of annual copper use came from recycled sources.
Sitting at end of the recycling value chain, the copper industry plays crucial role by “closing the loop” and is constantly investing and innovating to ensure the circular management of metals. However it is more difficult to collect and reprocess increasingly complex materials containing copper such as electronic scrap. Therefore endeavors supporting recycling can be implemented in new product design to facilitate end of life recovery and the industrial recycling processes to increase overall yields. In addition, regulatory policies must continue to encourage recovery and recycling, both at the industry level and by the individual citizen.