Environment During mining and refining (purification) of copper, dust and waste gases such as sulphur dioxide are produced which may have a harmful effect on the environment. Although these harmful effects are minimised by copper producers (sulphur dioxide is captured and used to make sulphuric acid), with recycling there are little, if any, harmful gases emitted. Landfill costs Copper and copper alloy objects which are not recycled might otherwise be dumped in holes in the ground – this is called landfill. These holes are rapidly being filled up and, as they become scarcer, landfill becomes a very expensive option for waste disposal (of any material). Energy saving In order to extract copper from copper ore the energy required is approximately 100GJ/tonne. Recycling copper uses much less energy, about 10GJ/tonne, that\’s only 10% of the energy needed for extraction.
This energy saving leads to the conservation of valuable reserves of oil, gas or coal and reduces the amount of CO
released into the atmosphere. Conservation of copper ore To date only about 12% of known copper resources have been mined. However copper ore is a finite resource and it makes sense to conserve ore by recycling. Economics It is cheaper to recycle old copper than to mine and extract new copper. Recycled copper is worth up to 90% of the cost of the original copper. Recycling helps to keep the cost of copper products down. Copper holds the number one position for recycled industrial metal. As a matter of fact, the coins in your pocket may contain copper that is thousands of years old. The copper that is recycled every year is almost as much as the copper that is mined. This shows that there is a great demand for copper and things stand, it appears that it will continue to grow as more and more countries become technologically advanced.
But what are the benefits of recycling copper? Doesnt the whole process do more harm than good to the environment? True, recycling copper requires fossil fuels and releases gases into the atmosphere but in countries where up-to-date technology is used, there is very little damage to the environment. Here are additional benefits of recycling copper: The waste that we produce goes to landfills and the world is running short of space for them. Recycled copper doesn\’t end up in landfills. As a matter of fact, there is research going on as to how copper can replace the use of glass and plastic which are 2 major components of landfills. It is much better for the environment if we recycle copper because we dont have to mine for it to meet demand.
Mining uses up fossil fuels and interferes with natural ecosystems. If we could recycle more copper, we would reduce damage to the environment. Refining copper is very toxic. During the process, the waste that is emitted to the air can be harmful. Recycling, on the other hand is a relatively safe process and uses up only 15% of the energy that is necessary to refine copper. Recycling of copper injects new jobs into the economy. The process, all the way from collecting copper scrap to the actual recycling requires human labor. Recycling means that we slow down the rate of depletion of natural resources. With the global population growing so fast and all the technological advancements we are seeing today, it makes sense that we hang on to as much of our natural resources for as long as possible.
Anyone who makes a conscious effort to recycle says that it gives a very rewarding feeling. If you havent been feeling so good lately, why not try and recycle some copper and experience the feeling of giving back to the environment. Lastly, you make money. Go to and we will buy your copper from you. We pay excellent prices and we pay on the spot. Are there disadvantages to recycling copper? As already mentioned, some people argue that it increases the level of pollution in the atmosphere. This is not true when you compare it to the amount of toxins that are belched into the air during the copper extraction process. Considering how long copper can be recycled, we may come to a point in time when there is enough copper on the ground that we dont need to mine any more. That, doubtlessly, is a great thing for the planet.