Environmental & Economic Benefits of Copper Recycling

spool of copper that was created from recycled copper

Environmental & Economic Benefits of Copper Recycling

Copper has been an integral part of civilization for almost a hundred centuries, and there are indications that copper has been recycled since the beginning of its use. The quality of copper does not degrade when it is recycled, so it can be recycled over and over again. This means some of the copper we use today could have been originally fabricated thousands of years ago. Because of its versatility, copper is a valuable metal that is much sought after by scrap metal recyclers. One of the characteristics that makes copper so useful is that it is second only to silver in being the best conductor of electricity. Copper is also very ductile and malleable, meaning it can easily be formed into different shapes. It is one of the most demanded metals, surpassed only by iron and aluminum.

Copper Usage Throughout History

It is believed that copper has been used for many millennia. The oldest copper artifact that has been discovered is a copper pendant found in northern Iraq, and it has been dated to about 8700 BC. Around 8000 BC, copper was discovered as a substitute for stone. For a long time, copper was the only metal known to man, so it was used for everything. Around 5000 BC, ancient civilizations figured out how to smelt copper to get more out of simple copper oxide ores. Before this process was discovered, copper artifacts were hammered from pure copper that could be found in a few places around the globe. By 4000 BC, heating and casting copper into shapes was commonplace in Egypt. It wasn’t until after 4000 BC that man discovered a second metal—gold. Around 3000 BC, silver and lead were also being used, and copper was now being alloyed. Copper alloys were made first with arsenic and then with tin, which created bronze and brought about the Bronze Age.

How Copper Recycling Benefits the Environment

Copper is a trace element that is essential for plant and animal health. This means it is important for some copper to remain in its natural state for the well-being of plant and animal life. Recycling copper keeps additional virgin copper ore from having to be mined from the earth. Currently, only about 12 percent of known copper reserves have been mined and consumed. However, copper ore is a finite, non-renewable resource, so once it has all been mined, it will be gone. Additionally, it takes 85 to 90 percent more energy to process new copper from virgin ore than to recycle copper for new purposes, and conserving energy is very beneficial to the environment.

Copper recycling also benefits the environment because it reduces harmful waste. During the copper mining and refining process, a number of harmful substances are released into the environment, including dust and waste gases. One such gas is sulfur dioxide, which forms sulfuric acid when it combines with water and air. This is the main component of acid rain and can cause deforestation and the acidification of waterways, which can be deadly for aquatic life. Little to no harmful gases are emitted during copper recycling, though.

Scrap metal recycling, including copper recycling, also diverts excess waste from going to landfills. When scrap metals are not recycled, they end up in landfills along with all the other trash. These landfills are quickly filling up. It is a good idea to avoid throwing waste away when it can be recycled so that landfills do not get filled with reusable items.

How Copper Recycling Benefits the Economy

The copper recycling process is much less expensive than the process of extracting and refining new copper. This means recycling copper helps keep the cost of copper products lower and more affordable for use in plumbing, electrical cables, etc. The United States is one of the leading countries in copper production, and we are mostly self-sufficient in our copper supply. The US produces about 8 percent of the world’s copper, and roughly half of this output comes from recycled copper materials. In 2010, the US scrap metal industry recycled 1.8 million tons of copper for domestic use and exportation. Copper recycling enables our country to maintain its self-sufficiency and places us as one of the top copper producers in the world, and this is great for our economy.

Recycling Copper at a Scrap Yard Near Me

Copper can be found everywhere from plumbing pipes to electrical wires to household appliances. When these applications have outlived their usefulness, don’t throw them away to add to an already overflowing landfill. Instead, recycle as many of their components as you can. All of the copper and other scrap metal that you get from these sources can be taken to a scrap yard for recycling. A scrap yard specializes in scrap metal recycling and will purchase your scrap metal from you. This will be beneficial for you because you will receive extra cash, and scrap metal recycling will provide benefits to the environment and the economy. Roane Metals Group is a scrap yard in East Tennessee that makes the scrap metal recycling process easy and convenient. We can take your useless scrap metal off your hands and turn it into cold hard cash. If you have some old metal that you want to get rid of, bring it by one of our two convenient scrap yard locations. For any questions about scrap metal prices or for directions to one of our facilities, contact us today.