copper recycled

Copper is one of the most widely recycled metals in the world because recycling copper is better than extracting it from mines. Copper mining is an energy-intensive process that depletes natural resources and pollutes the environment. On the other hand, recycling copper saves significant amounts of energy and reduces copper mining, which helps to save the environment. 

When copper products reach the end of their useful life, recycling helps ensure that rather than being disposed of as waste, the metal can be reclaimed and reused – thereby reducing the need for new mined copper. This is why copper recycling has become increasingly important and is practised globally on a large scale.

Why is Copper Recycled in The First Place? 

There are several important reasons why copper recycling has become so prevalent globally. Recycling copper helps reduce waste, saves the environment from mining impacts, conserves energy, and is economically profitable. By reclaiming and reusing copper from products that have reached the end of their useful life, more copper can be utilized while lowering demand for new mined copper.

Why is Copper Recycled

Copper Recycling Effect on Waste Management

Recycling is crucial to reduce copper-related waste when used products containing copper reach the end of their lifespan. If discarded as trash, these post-consumer copper items would accumulate in landfills unnecessarily. However, recycling diverts such waste streams away from landfills by recovering the metal content. 

Saving The Environment By Reducing Copper Mining

Copper mining impacts the environment through disruption of natural habitats, depletion of non-renewable resources and generation of mining waste. By diverting these end-use copper products towards recycling instead of new mining extraction, considerable damage to the natural landscape and ecosystems can be avoided. 

Saving Energy From Copper Mining

Copper mining is a highly energy-intensive industrial process that requires substantial power for extraction, materials transportation and mineral beneficiation. Recycling scrap copper into new products instead offers tremendous energy savings compared to primary copper production from ore. It is estimated that recycling copper consumes only 10-20% of the energy required for equivalent virgin copper production.

Recycling Copper Is Profitable

As a sizable infrastructure exists to collect, process and transport scrap copper globally, recycling offers economic value recovery from discarded items and industrial wastes. Remelting and refining recycled copper costs much less than primary copper production since the metal has already been separated, purified and refined once before. Additionally, you can get cash from your scrap copper by reaching out to Metro Scrap Copper Recycling.

Is Recycling Copper Better Than Extracting? 

When considering environmental, social and economic factors, recycling copper has several clear advantages over extracting new copper through mining. Recycling conserves natural resources and decreases copper mining’s intensive land and energy usage, while also reducing associated pollution levels and greenhouse gas emissions. It helps ease pressure on ecosystems and communities near mining sites due to lowered ore demand. 

Is Recycling Copper Better Than Extracting

The Process of Copper Recycling

Copper scraps enter the recycling stream from multiple post-consumer and post-industrial sources. This includes recovered copper from end-of-life products, machines, equipment and building demolition waste.

Copper Stripping

Once scrap copper loads arrive at recycling facilities, initial dismantling and stripping are done to remove other materials. Large scraps go through mechanical shearing to cut off attached pieces like wires or parts made from combinations of metals. This separates pure copper streams from other recyclables like aluminium, steel, and plastics which will undergo dedicated processing separately. 

Copper Sorting

After stripping, the mixed copper scrap undergoes sorting to segregate materials based on purity, grade, size and other attributes. Magnetic inductors and eddy current systems are used to separate copper from non-ferrous metals based on conductivity properties. The sorted copper is either bagged or loaded directly into different hoppers ready for downstream processing.

Copper Size Reduction

Once sorted, the copper scrap undergoes graduated size reduction steps. Larger pieces initially pass through heavy-duty shear balers and hammer mills to break down into smaller shreds. These shredded copper streams then enter rotary shredders that further break the material into uniform granules under 5cm in size. The granulated copper is conveyed through magnetic separation again to minimize any tramp iron contamination.  

Copper Smelting and Refining

Now optimally sized and sorted, the copper granules enter furnaces for final refining. In the smelting stage, the feed material melts at over 1,000 degrees Celsius and impurities float to the surface as a slag layer. Meanwhile, the molten copper settles at the bottom and is tapped off. Additional refining then takes place to electrolytically reduce any residual impurities through an electro-winning process.  

What is Recycled Copper Used For? 

Recycled copper finds many valuable applications due to its cost-effectiveness and relatively easy availability compared to mined copper extraction. It is commonly used to manufacture wires and cables for electric power transmission and electronics.

what is recycled copper used for

Electrical Applications 

Given its superb conductivity properties, recycled copper finds widespread use in electrical systems and components. It is the second most used metal after aluminium for power cables due to its high current-carrying ability. Build wiring, switchboards, busbars and many other live circuitry rely on recycled copper. 

With electrical demand growing continuously, recycled copper helps expand resilient grid infrastructure more sustainably. Electronics manufacturing also depends heavily on recycled copper for components like PCBs, wires, connectors and switches. 

Construction Work

The construction industry utilizes large volumes of recycled copper through its many applications. Roofing, rainwater harvesting, cladding and other exterior materials rely on recycled copper sheets for their corrosion-resistant and aesthetic properties. Plumbing extensively uses recycled copper for reliable piping carrying water supply and drainage. 

Heat exchangers produce recycled copper coils to efficiently transfer thermal energy in HVAC systems. Structural additions like reinforcement bars and sheeting are emerging copper construction uses as well. 


As a crucial conductive metal, recycled copper upholds efficient transportation in diverse ways. Motor and brake components rely on recycled copper windings to optimise engine and vehicle performance safely. Wiring harnessing crisscrossing vehicles similarly use recycled copper for its reliability. 

Public transport infrastructure like trains, metros and trams depend on recycled copper parts in motors and signalling systems. Even aircraft manufacturers recovered copper content in their skin panels, hydraulics and other mechanical systems. 


Effective recycling remains crucial, with the versatility and essentiality of copper applications continuing to grow globally. By recovering over 95% purity levels, copper recycling is a cornerstone of sustainability and the circular economy. It demonstrates how valuable resources can power progress endlessly through prudent reuse and stewardship.

As demand persists exponentially, copper recycling’s contribution helps societies prosper in an environmentally sensitive manner for generations to come. Continued collaboration among stakeholders promises to optimise recycling’s ability to secure copper’s strategic role in development worldwide.

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