Environmental and Economic Benefits of Copper Recycling

Posted by : Jia Sherry / On : 8 Jan, 2022 / In : Scraps

Environmental and 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 make 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

1. Leaving copper in its natural state is essential for the well-being of plants and animals

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.

2. Recycling copper 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.

Why Mesa Acres?

Mesa Acres partners with a global network of Metal Recyclers as part of our commitment to green energy initiatives. With a strong focus on high-quality Copper and Aluminum scrap, we are committed to being a key player in enabling the green energy revolution. By recycling what has been previously used, we are able to re-introduce copper and aluminum that would have ended up in a landfill for re-use in production cycles without the environmental cost of mining,  and at prices that are more affordable. We provide the highest quality copper focusing on scrap with 99.9% purity like Millberry Scrap Copper for our catalog. 

Mesa Acres works with our client producers to understand their production cycle, market requirements, and expansion objectives. We then leverage our global partner network to find a quality affordable match for their copper raw material needs.  

27 Sep, 2018

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26 Apr, 2018

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