For nearly 5,000 years, copper was the only metal known to man. Today, it's one of the most used and reused of our "modern" metals. Look closely at the next penny you see and consider these bright facts about copper:
- The copper on that penny maybe as old as the pharaohs, because copper has an infinite recyclable life. Copper, by itself or in any of its alloys, such as brass or bronze, is used over and over again.
- Copper was first used by humans more than 10,000 years ago. A copper pendant discovered in what is now northern Iraq has been dated about 8700 B.C.
- Known worldwide copper resources are estimated at nearly 5.8 trillion pounds of which only about 0.7 trillion pounds (12%) have been mined throughout history... and nearly all of that is still in circulation, because copper's recycling rate is higher than that of any other engineering metal.
- According to the U.S. Geological Survey, up to 60% of all copper sources come from recycled scrap for U.S. copper and brass mills, excluding wire rod.
- In 2018, U.S. recyclers recovered 870,000 mt of old and new copper scrap, up 1% from 2017. 83% of that total is new scrap from fabricating operations and 17% is old scrap, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That supply met 34% of the U.S. market’s need for refined copper.
- Copper's recycling value is so great that premium-grade scrap can retain up to 95% of the value of the primary metal from newly mined ore.
- The ability to reuse copper extracted from recycled product is a tribute to an industry that's environmentally conscious regarding its use of natural resources on behalf of consumers.