Copper recycling and sustainability Back Ford
Page 11

What can I do to recycle copper?
Crane loading a shearing machine
Crane in operation loading car carcasses into a shearing machine.

Over 29 million tonnes of waste is discarded in the UK each year and this amount is increasing. Steps need to be taken to reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfill and to recover materials from this waste to make new products.

There is much information available for recycling paper, glass, drinks cans and plastics but relatively little on copper and articles which contain copper.

Copper and copper alloy articles are very long lasting but electrical and electronic equipment, which relies on copper to make it work, often becomes out of date in just a few years due to technological advances.

Remember to follow the 3 Rs - reduce waste, reuse and recycle. So, if you can carry on using something for a while longer before replacing it with the latest model then do so. If you can find a good home for something that is still working, but that you no longer need, then do that. If you can't do either of these things, then recycle.

Phone recycling
Supermarkets supply envelopes so you can post your old phone to be recycled, free of charge, with money going to charity in the process.

  • Electrical equipment - take discarded electrical equipment to a recycling centre (look for the WEEE symbol)
  • Mobile phones - there are many collection schemes around, check out your local supermarket. Some schemes collect from schools and this is a good way of fundraising. Some councils will collect old phones with the weekly recycling. Money is often donated to charities through these schemes.
  • Cars - remember, if you have an old car to dispose of you need to comply with the ELV Directive
  • Other objects around the home - think, is it made of copper, does it contain copper? Remember, taps, door handles, coat hooks, letterboxes, switches and sockets, light fittings, all contain copper. When these objects are replaced, take the old ones to your local authority recycling site.

Keep up to date
The situation with local authorities is changing all the time as new directives are implemented. No one scheme applies to all parts of the UK.

Useful links

Courtesy of Barnet Council
Mobile phones can be collected in curbside collection schemes. Phones are recycled and charities can benefit too.

Safety warning
Copper has excellent electrical and thermal conductivity and is used for plumbing, gas and electrical installations in homes. Copper wires carry electrical currents; copper pipes can carry hot water and natural gas. Never attempt to remove copper from electrical, gas or plumbing installations in your home as you could suffer serious injuries and/or cause serious damage. If any of these are being removed by contractors - plumbers/electricians/gas engineers, ask them to recycle.

back top next