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Copper Recycling Rates

Copper is one of the many metals that we make regular use of that can also be readily recycled. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that the vast majority of copper in circulation has been recycled in some way. Why is this metal so easy to recycle? Let’s take a closer look at this and the rate at which we are currently recycling it.

Article by Langley Recycling, a leader for copper scrap recycling in Kansas City MO.

Why is Copper Good for Recycling?

We have barely touched the world’s copper supplies. Despite the fact that we have been using copper for thousands of years, we have really not made that much of an impact in reserves yet. It is thought that we have produced about 700 million tons of copper out of a discovered 2.8 billion metric tons. However, it is thought that there might be a total of 6.3 billion metric tons of copper on Earth. Though it is a finite resource (so once we are out, we are out), there is still plenty in the ground to be discovered. So, if there is so much copper, why are we choosing to recycle it?

To put it simply, copper recycles well. As with any material, there are some waste products generated when the copper ore is both mined and smelted. Making copper also requires a lot of energy – approximately 100 GJ/tonne. However, only 10% of this energy is needed for recycling copper. Throw in the fact that recycled copper can be worth 90% of its original material, and it can quickly present itself as a great material to recycle.

What Types of Copper Can Be Recycled?

We all have goods made of copper around our home. This material is frequently used as part of electronics and other household goods, and this means that you might have more of it lying around your home than you might first think.

This presents an issue when you think about the amount of electrical and electronic equipment that is thrown away each and every year. This is not just copper but gold, silver, and other rare metals that could be repurposed. We should not just be throwing out our electronics and electrical goods but sending them for recycling where we can as we can get so much value from them.

It is important to remember that only certain types of copper can be recycled too. Ideally, you should be able to find copper that is unalloyed and free from oxidation and impurities. However, many scrap dealers will accept copper in a variety of conditions – you need only ask.

How Much Copper are We Recycling?

So, how much copper are we choosing to recycle? Since this is a metal that we have in abundance and one that recycles very well, we have seen recycling rates climb steadily. Though many are still throwing out their goods that contain copper, there are some who are choosing to recycle it. In turn, these efforts are being bolstered by governments around the world to try to make things even more attractive.

Around the world at the moment, it is thought that approximately 34% of copper comes from recycling. Europe is beating this with a recycling rate of 41%. With the US producing about 8% of the world’s copper, you do have to wonder how much we are also recycling.

In the US, it is thought that nearly just as much copper is being taken from recycled material as is coming from newly mined ore. Most of the new copper goes to creating copper wire, whereas the recycled material is used across several areas. In fact, it is thought that approximately 72% of copper in circulation in the US comes from recycled copper scrap.

What Can I Do with My Copper?

You could have equipment that you want rid of, you could be renovating a house that has a load of copper wires or pipes, or you could find yourself in a number of other scenarios where you have a lot of copper on your hands. Don’t just throw it out – take it for recycling! You might be able to get a great price for it since recycled copper tends to have at least 95% of the value of metal from fresh ore.

Here at Langley Recycling, we will aim to give you a fair price for your copper. Even if you are not sure what type of metal you have, our experts will be able to work out what it is, whether we take it, and what price we can give you!

(Image Source: Unsplash)


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