Recycling Companies Maintain Steady Supply amidst COVID-19 for Business Continuity

The supply and demand for recycled copper have severely suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. The corresponding downturn in the global manufacturing sector has further affected the growth of the recycled copper market. As such, U.S.-based recycling organizations are conducting a series of online events to assess the demand and supply of copper in upcoming months. With the help of virtual events, companies in the recycled copper market are gaining ideas of buoyancy to continue business in a slow growing market.

Recycling organizations have high hopes for the introduction of vaccines or intermediary antidotes to maintain business continuity and restore confidence of workers at manufacturing facilities. However, it has been found that the demand for recycled copper is gradually plummeting in the automotive sector. As such, recycling companies are maintaining steady supple chains to avoid supply shocks in crucial applications industries such as in electronics and wiring industries.

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Decline in CO2 Emissions Boosts Popularity of Recycled Copper in Electronics

Recycled copper is gaining popularity, owing to its cost efficiency since the production process consumes much less energy. Wiring and electrical applications are the key focus point for companies in the recycled copper market, since recycled copper retains its electrical conductivity. It has been found that recycled copper helped to increase energy efficiencies in many power systems. Moreover, copper recycling process consumes much less energy as compared to copper’s primary production. Hence, apart from electronics, manufacturers in the recycled copper market are exploring value-grab opportunities in the industrial machinery and equipment sector to broaden their revenue streams.

Recycling companies have been boasting about their credibility credentials, since individuals and governments are becoming increasingly aware about carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Recycled copper is being highly preferred in electrical applications, as its production process drastically reduces CO2 emissions.

Need for Investment in Recycling Facilities in Europe Crucial for Market Growth

The recycling of rare metals gaining huge potential in Europe. Since copper deposits are depleting at a rapid pace in Europe, companies in the recycled copper market are tapping incremental opportunities in electrical & electronic applications. They are becoming aware about the concept of urban mines and material-flow analysis to draw an assessment of the metals currently being used for recycling. It has been found that recycling rate of copper is more than 50% in Europe. However, not all collected copper is recycled within Europe and most scrap copper is exported for recycling. Hence, companies in the recycled copper market should increase their investment in recycling facilities within Europe to retain their revenue in the continent.

Wiring and electrical infrastructure are key revenue generating sectors for recycled copper, as copper is being widely recycled without losing its chemical and physical properties.

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Recovering Copper from e-Waste Recycling Cheaper than Extracting from Mines

Companies in the recycled copper market are exploring business opportunities in the industrial machinery & equipment sector. Surprisingly, most of renewable energy systems are being made from recycled copper to cut down on CO2 emissions. Manufacturers in the recycled copper market are sourcing their metals from e-waste, which is accumulating in landfills. Such developmental activities are contributing toward the growth of the global market, which is predicted to advance at a modest CAGR of 3.5%, in terms of volume, throughout the assessment period. Cellphones and computers being a boon and a curse for mankind has helped recycling organizations to source copper among other rare metals such as platinum, palladium, and gold.

It has been found that recovering precious metals from e-waste recycling is much cheaper than extracting metals from mines. Hence, copper recycling organizations are using the metal in automotive and electronics industries to leverage revenue opportunities.

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Sustainable and Responsible Metal Concept Helps Companies to Tap Opportunities in Exports with China

Manufacturers in the recycled copper market are securing tie-ups with consistent buyers of recycled materials in South America to ensure stable revenue streams. Metal recyclers who are capitalizing on e-waste now are more likely to succeed in the recycled copper market during the forecast period. As such, the concept of sustainable and responsible metal is gaining increased popularity, as several nations are competing to advance in recycling activities and make a collective & conscious effort toward environment conservation.

The domestic scrap copper direct recycling rod technology is being highly talked about in the market. Manufacturers are increasing their R&D efforts to validate the technology’s efficacy in standardized market operations. Since China is short of copper, recycling companies are strengthening their export chains with China to meet their expected industrial production.

Chinese Companies Realize Importance of Upgrading Recycling Technology and Equipment

In order to eliminate old technologies used in copper recycling, companies in the recycled copper market are adopting the waste copper regeneration rod production technology to meet consumption rates in China. Since China’s cable industry is quantified in several million tons, recycling companies are increasing efforts to make technological improvements in recycling procedures to meet end user demands. In order to solve the national quality problem of waste copper regeneration rod, recycling companies in China are upgrading their technology and equipment to meet high copper consumption in the country.

Fire refining of scrap copper has helped to achieve desirable results in developing highly conductive copper rods. Electricians are taking cues from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China to develop highly conductive copper rods.

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Analysts’ Viewpoint

The decline in copper scrap prices during the ongoing COVID-19 era can be a business opportunity for recycling companies. Regulations for recycled copper and brass raw materials are being promulgated in China. The recycling infrastructure in Europe is quite robust. However, several companies in the Europe recycled copper market export a significant volume of the collected copper to other countries such as China, which is falling short of the metal. Hence, companies in Europe should also invest to establish more recycling facilities in the region to retain and bring their revenue in rotation. Technological and equipment upgrades are becoming increasingly crucial for market growth.

Recycled Copper Market: Overview

  • Scrap copper collected from various sources is used as raw material in copper recycling. Scrap copper metal is separated and processed several times to yield recycled copper. Scrap copper metal is primarily obtained from discarded automotive components, construction materials, electronic devices, and electric products.
  • Major companies operating in the global recycled copper market procure scrap copper from scrap-collecting companies, brokers, dealers, industrial manufacturers, municipal organizations, and individuals
  • Two major types of copper scrap are available in the market: old scarp and new scrap. Old copper scrap is available in various grades such as bare bright copper, #1 copper, #2 copper, and #1 insulated wire. New copper scrap is collected from copper, brass, or bronze article factories. New scrap includes offcuts and shavings produced during article manufacturing.
  • Recycled copper, an organic compound, is one of the highly useful chemical intermediates. It is employed extensively in the production of synthetic rubbers such as polybutadiene rubber, styrene–butadiene rubber, styrene–butadiene latex, nitrile rubber, and chloroprene rubber.
  • Rise in demand for recycled copper in various end-use applications is anticipated to drive the recycled copper market, as recycled copper extracted from scrap material saves around 80%of the energy required to produce primary copper from mining
  • Secondary production of copper generates lower carbon footprint than primary production of carbon. Thus, growth in recycling rate is directly proportional to the significant reduction of CO2 emissions and energy consumption.
  • Manufacturers of copper have started adopting advanced energy management systems to lower their environmental footprint. Recycled copper is projected to help industry players achieve sustainability goals in the near future. This is estimated to propel the global recycled copper market in the next few years. Rise in awareness about environment sustainability among manufacturers and consumers is projected to drive the recycled copper market during the forecast period.

Increase in Demand for Recycled Copper in Building & Construction to Drive Recycled Copper Market

  • The global recycled copper market has been segmented based on application, copper scrap grade, and region. In terms of application, the global recycled copper market has been divided into building & construction, transportation, industrial machinery & equipment, electrical & electronic, and others.
  • In terms of revenue, the building & construction segment held a major share of the global recycled copper market in 2019. Recycled copper is employed in a wide range of applications in power generation, distribution, and transmission industry, due to its high electric and thermal resistance.
  • Technical advancement in design with better performance has led to higher acceptance of electrical vehicles. This is expected to drive the transportation segment of the recycled copper market in Asia Pacific in the near future.
  • In terms of copper scarp grade, the global recycled copper market has been segregated into bare bright copper, #1 copper, #2 copper, #1 insulated wire, and others
  • Bare bright copper is one of the important grades of copper scrap. It is also known as bright & shiny copper.

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Key Regional Highlights

  • In terms of region, the global recycled copper market has been split into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle & Africa. Asia Pacific dominated the global recycled copper market in 2019. This trend is estimated to continue during the forecast period. The region is projected to create lucrative opportunities for the recycled copper market in the near future.
  • China is a key electronics manufacturing country. Rise in demand for recycled copper in the global electronics market due to rapid urbanization and improvement in lifestyle has augmented the electronics market in China. This, in turn, is boosting the demand for recycled copper in appliances and electronics applications in the country.
  • Increase in demand for recycled copper in construction and power generation, distribution & transmission industries is anticipated to positively impact the market in India due to growth in end-use products. This is projected to propel the recycled copper market in Asia Pacific in the near future.
  • Europe holds vital share of the global recycled copper market. Germany accounted for significant share of the recycled copper market in Europe in 2019. It is anticipated to be largest copper consuming country in Europe during the forecast period. Growth in automotive, electronics, and commercial construction activities is a key factor influencing the demand for recycled copper in Germany.

Recycled Copper Market: Competition Landscape

  • The global recycled copper market is highly fragmented with the presence of international and domestic players. Prominent players operating in the global recycled copper market include
    • Aurubis AG
    • Commercial Metals Company
    • Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc.
    • Umicore N.V.
    • Kuusakoski Group Oy
    • Sims Metal Management Ltd.
    • OmniSource, LLC
    • Elgin Recycling
    • Pacific Metal Pty Ltd
    • Aaron Metals
    • Universal Recycling
    • Wilton Recycling
    • SA Recycling LLC
    • European Recycled Metal
    • LKM Recycling.