Copper has been in use by civilization for over 10,000 years, and has been recycled since early times. Because it does not degrade during recycling, copper in use today could have been first fabricated into objects thousands of years ago. Copper is highly prized by scrap metal collectors and scrap metal recycling businesses. The nonferrous metal is the best conductor of electricity except for silver. That electrical and thermal conductivity, along with properties of high ductility and malleability make it one of the most demanded metals by industry, eclipsed only by iron and aluminum.
Copper has been used and recycled by people for over 10,000 years, with a pendant dated to approximately 87000 BC having been found in what is now northern Iraq. Around 8000 B.C., copper emerged as a substitute for stone, and by 4000 B.C., Eyptians were heating and casting copper into shapes. Around 3500 B.C., the technology of copper processing continued to grow as the process of smelting ores was discovered, harkening the introduction of the Bronze Age.
The Mediterranean island of Cypress was the source of copper used by the ancient Romans. They called the highly coveted ore “aes Cyprium,” which translates into English as “metal of Cyprus.” This name was shortened to cyprium, and later, cyprium was changed to coprum. This latter term was the genesis of the English word, “copper.”
As with other metals, there are significant environmental benefits to the recycling of copper. These include solid waste diversion, reduced energy requirements for processing, and natural resource conservation. For example, the energy requirements of recycled copper are as much as 85 to 90 percent less than the processing of new copper from virgin ore. In terms of conservation, copper is a non-renewable resource, although only 12 percent of known reserves have been consumed. Known U.S. reserves of copper are thought to total 1.6 billion metric tons, with production concentrated in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada and Montana. About 99 percent of domestic production is generated from 20 mines.
A few facts about recycling shows a greater interest in recycling and reuse. As limited resources are becoming less available and more expensive to get, recycling has become an more important than ever. Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)—more commonly known as trash or garbage—consists of everyday items we use and then throw away, such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, and batteries. This comes from our homes, schools, hospitals, and businesses.
Recycling and composting prevented 86.6 million tons of material away from being disposed in 2012, up from 15 million tons in 1980. This prevented the release of approximately 168 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the air in 2012—equivalent to taking over 33 million cars off the road for a year. Everyone should take the time to learn more about what they can recycle. This includes food and yard wastes, paper, metals, and electronics. You can lessen your MSW generation and learn how they can be recycled. If you have any questions, give us a call (361)643-4589.
Recycling Rates Are Increasing!
Aluminum recycling is one of the most efficient ways to recycle, using only 5% of the energy required to make new aluminum. Each year nearly 1 billion dollars worth of aluminum is buried in our dumps, costing tax payers money when aluminum recycling is easy and pays. Over 200 million aluminum cans that could be recycled are disposed of each day.
Why is aluminum can recycling so important? Because it saves lots of energy. Today, aluminum can recycling saves about 11.5 billion kilowatt-hours, enough electricity to power a city the size of Pittsburgh for six years. A savings of $1,380,000,000. Making aluminum cans from recycled aluminum scrap takes only four percent of the energy, one-third kWh. Recycling just four aluminum cans saves as much energy as a cup of gasoline. This is also why aluminum has such a high scrap value. It is cheaper than mining new aluminum.
Also, think of all the extra pollution caused by mining, processing, and forming raw aluminum. Aluminum must be extracted from bauxite ore, a more tedious process than melting down scrap aluminum. 95% of energy and air pollution is saved by recycling as well as a ton of space in our landfills.
Do your part to help the environment, and make yourself a few extra bucks!!