Copper, with its high conductivity and corrosion resistance, is a versatile metal used in a myriad of applications. It also happens to be one of the most recyclable metals, with nearly as much copper recycled each year as is mined. Here's an exploration of the types of copper that can be recycled and what they can be transformed into.
Bare Bright Copper
Regarded as the most valuable grade of scrap copper, bare bright copper is highly sought after for recycling. It includes uncoated, unalloyed copper wire free of attachments and insulation, typically found in electrical wiring. After recycling, bare bright copper often finds its way back into the electrical industry, being made into new wires and electrical products.
#1 copper, also known as heavy or red copper, is another high-value grade that is frequently recycled. It includes clean, unalloyed, uncoated copper solids, pipes, or wire. The recycling process involves melting and purifying the copper before it's reshaped. Recycled #1 copper is used in plumbing systems, electrical wires, roofing materials, and various types of equipment and machinery.
#2 copper is a grade that includes unalloyed copper with various impurities or coatings, such as solder or paint. Despite the impurities, #2 copper is still valuable and commonly recycled. It's often used in the manufacturing of motors, transformers, and electromagnets, as well as some types of plumbing fittings.
Copper alloys like bronze and brass can also be recycled. Brass, which is copper alloyed with zinc, is commonly found in hardware like keys, door handles, and light fixtures. Bronze, copper alloyed with tin, is often used in decorative items and musical instruments. These alloys can be recycled and remade into similar products.
Copper turnings, the small shavings produced during the machining process, can also be collected and recycled. These turnings are usually melted down and used to produce various copper products, from pipes and wiring to decorative items.
Copper Clad Steel (CCS) Wire
Another category of recyclable copper is copper clad steel (CCS) wire. Used predominantly in telecommunications, CCS wire is made by coating a steel core with a layer of copper. While it does not carry the same value as bare bright or #1 copper due to the mixed nature of the metal, it is still valuable and is recycled into similar telecommunications components, reinforcing the circular economy.
Recycling of CCS wire involves separating the copper from the steel. The copper can then be melted and purified for reuse, while the steel can be recycled in a similar fashion and used in various industries such as construction or automotive.
Contact a local copper recycling service to learn more.Share