As the world’s largest copper recycler, Aurubis makes a significant contribution to resource efficiency.
Copper is an ideal raw material for reprocessing, as it isn’t fully used up but can be returned to the cycle as often as desired without a loss of quality. It therefore fulfills sustainability and resource efficiency requirements to a large extent.
Due to a higher level of consumption and shorter product lifecycles, the supply of recycling raw materials is also growing more quickly. In order to utilize the rising volume of so-called secondary raw materials from the IT and telecommunications sectors, for instance, we are expanding the processing capacities for these types of scrap and investing in state-of-the-art facilities. These materials are very diverse and include copper tube, electronic scrap and casting slags, for example. But we don’t rely on the circular economy for copper alone. Nearly all of the other metals from the recycling materials are converted into marketable products at Aurubis.
Secondary raw materials include complex end-of-life materials. Among other things, these come from electronic devices, vehicles and other items used daily.
Separating them into material and product streams by type in order to reuse them is a significant challenge. We usually utilize highly developed mechanical, physical and metallurgical separating and refining processes in different combinations for this purpose as part of our multi-metal recycling. In this way, we recover a wide range of additional elements besides copper: non-ferrous metals such as tin, zinc, lead and nickel as well as precious metals such as gold and silver. Roughly 50 % of our precious metal output comes from recycling. We have set the goal of increasing the volume of complex recycling materials by 20 % between 2013 and 2018.
You can find out more about raw materials and recycling at Aurubis in the section Recycling.
The European Commission is promoting the circular economy with its new action plan from December 2015: The more that growth and progress are based on innovations in the circular economy, the more sustainable the
use of primary resources will be.