The Advantages of Recycling Copper

The pennies in your pocket may contain copper that is thousands of years old, because copper is infinitely recyclable.
••• copper pennies image by Joseph Pierce from Fotolia.com

Copper is a 100 percent recyclable material. According to the Copper Development Association, copper's recycling rate is higher than that of any other engineering metal. Every year in the United States, nearly as much copper is recycled as is mined. Excluding wire production, almost 75 percent of U.S. copper used comes from recycled copper scrap. There are so many advantages to recycling copper that the value of scrap is approximately 85 to 95 percent the price of newly mined ore.

The Decline of Mining

The more copper recycled, the smaller the need for copper mining. Copper mining involves the usage of time, energy and fossil fuels. According to the Copper Development Association, the United States has no need to import copper. This is mostly due to copper recycling, which provides 95 percent of the copper for domestic usage.

Copper Refining

The refining process for copper releases toxic gases and dust into the air. Recycling reduces the emissions related to the mining and smelting. According to KME, the Bureau of International Recycling reports that recycling copper saves 85 percent of the energy needed to produce new copper. The amount of solid waste left over from the smelting process is also eliminated, reducing a need for disposal.

Landfills at Capacity

Recycling of copper eliminates the product from taking up space in landfills, according to "Waste and Recycling" by Janine Amos. Copper is found in many different products; household electrical items, computers, cars and electrical wire can all include copper. Many buildings include copper in their construction, with the average home containing 400 pounds of copper, according to the Northwest Mining Association. Even small pieces of copper can be recycled and reused.

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