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Some Fascinating Facts About Copper

October 28, 2016

Like many things today, we don’t give much attention to copper metal. We don’t even notice that it’s an integral part of day-to-day life. And while we might be more aware of iron and aluminum in our daily lives, copper is actually quite indispensible. It has countless applications in industry and manufacturing, and is commonly used where corrosion-resistance and electrical conductivity are fundamental. Importantly, copper is a highly recyclable metal, and with an endless lifespan.

Considered to be “man’s oldest metal”, historical records show that copper was being used more than 10,000 years ago. And since then, the metal has been used to construct everything from metal doors to metal roofs. The Statue of Liberty in New York is constructed with nearly 200,000 pounds of copper. Even in an average home, there’s about 500 pounds of copper throughout – it’s in the electric wiring; in practically every kitchen appliance, and in most of the plumbing pipes.

Copper metal is found in virtually everything we use on a daily basis – from our computers, to our vehicles, to our phones, to the various appliances we use every day. Copper metal is anti-bacterial, so it’s ideal for handrails and doorknobs, particularly in public places. As well, copper pots and pans are a favourite in the kitchen because there’s even heat distribution (all of the food gets cooked evenly). Needless to say, copper cooking vessels are common in good restaurants.

Copper is also an integral element in computer manufacturing. It has far better conductivity than other metals, and allows for seamless circuit integration as well as faster operating speed for the end user. Because copper is so corrosion-resistant, it’s used universally in plumbing pipes and in complete plumbing systems. More than that, half of all copper consumption worldwide is used in building construction and residential construction – it’s simply an essential building component.

Because of its durability and versatility, copper is one of the most recyclable metals (it’s only surpassed by aluminum). The metal is 100% recyclable, and about 80% of all the copper that was ever mined is still in use in some form. Once recycled, copper retains 90% of its original integrity, making it one of the most valuable metals for recycling and remanufacturing. In North America, about 50% of copper used in industry and manufacturing comes directly from recycled sources.

Copper recycling provides big payoffs:  it saves energy that would otherwise be used to mine, and process virgin ore; it lessens the need to dump waste copper in landfill; and it serves to conserve the world’s natural copper resources. Today, product manufacturers are focused on making more sustainable products - and that means using more recycled copper, and therefore generating less waste. Government is also playing a role by establishing regulations for waste and recycling.

Copper metal remains at the forefront of metal recycling, mainly because it has a higher recycling rate than any other engineered metal. In fact, across North America, more copper is recycled back into service from waste material than is newly mined. It simply makes for a great future. 

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