Copper: Empowering a #BetterPlanet through Innovation and Resource Efficiency

In the face of escalating global climate change impacts, urgent action is essential to protect our planet, with the United Nations stressing the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by the end of this decade. Amidst the quest for a sustainable and eco-friendly future, copper emerges as a pivotal ally, offering unparalleled advantages in terms of energy efficiency, recyclability, and environmental preservation.

Copper's Electrical Efficiency is a Key Decarbonization Enabler:

Copper's exceptional electrical conductivity makes it vital for the energy transition towards carbon neutrality, supporting grid-greening technologies including renewable power generation and energy storage, and many other essential electrification applications from electric vehicles to transformers and switchgear. Copper conductors enable more efficient electrical systems with lower energy losses for a given current compared to equivalent aluminum conductors which have higher electrical resistance. In a report released by the International Copper Association (Copper – The Pathway to Net Zero), it’s reported that when taken together, these technologies have the potential to account for two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions abatement by 2050.

Recyclability and Environmental Impact:

As an environmental champion, copper is 100% recyclable and can be recycled repeatedly with no loss in properties, embodying the core principles of a circular economy. Approximately 30% of the world's annual copper demand is met through recycled copper and copper alloy scrap. Significant investments in several new greenfield secondary smelting and refining operations in the U.S. demonstrate industry’s commitment to increasing recycling rates and closing the loop. Moreover, many semi-finished copper and copper alloy products, including busbars, flat rolled products, and plumbing tube, contain considerable amounts of recycled content, typically over 50% by weight. Some product forms such as brass rod and fire refined copper wire rod have even higher levels, with >95% and 100% recycled contents respectively for certain product lines.

Semi-fabricators’ ability to directly remelt high quality copper scrap to make new products brings multiple environmental benefits, including energy conservation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and the extension of natural resource life. In other metal systems, certain types of pre-consumer scrap must first undergo an energy intensive smelting and refining step before the material can be remelted and converted into new semi-finished products.

The balance between primary and secondary copper:

Copper and copper alloys create durable and resilient products and systems that often last for decades, creating a significant lag time before the material becomes available for recycling. Meanwhile, the demand for copper fuelled by electrification continues to surge. Consequently, primary production will continue to play a key role in tandem with increased recycling to meet the world’s increasing copper needs as society transitions to a low carbon future.

Technological progress in mining has a long history, and innovation remains a priority for the copper industry. The modern copper mine bears little resemblance to mines of the past, with decades of innovations working to minimize environmental impact, protect workers and increase efficiency. The copper industry understands there are challenges to solve, and it is committed to doing so through scaling innovative practices and technological developments.

Copper in a Sustainable Future:

Copper and copper alloys make pivotal contributions to sustainability where they play a vital role in electric vehicles, solar and wind energy, and emerging applications like carbon capture and storage. This contribution becomes even more apparent in collaborative initiatives such as the partnership between CDA and the Electric School Bus Coalition, demonstrating the transformative impact of adopting electric buses, with a single bus reducing 54,000 pounds of CO2 emissions annually.


In the pursuit of sustainability and net-zero carbon emissions, copper stands as an essential and critical mineral, blending innovation and resource efficiency. From enhancing energy efficiency to ensuring the reliability of clean energy technologies, copper's role is indispensable, and the value it delivers to society is realized many times over through established recycling loops. As global demand for green technologies rises, copper remains resilient, poised to support the transition towards a sustainable and efficient future for our planet. Together, we are #BetterWithCopper.