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The contemporary European copper cycle: statistical entropy analysis

TitleThe contemporary European copper cycle: statistical entropy analysis
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsRechberger H, Graedel TE
Journal TitleEcological Economics
Accession NumberISI:000177127200007
KeywordsCopper, decision making tool, energy, Entropy, evaluate, exergy, industrial ecology, management, Material flow analysis, resource, systems, Waste management
AbstractThe copper flows and stocks of the European economy are investigated and evaluated over a 1-year period in the early 1990s. The method applied is statistical entropy, which quantifies the distribution pattern of a substance (e.g. copper) caused by a system (e.g. political economy). Contemporary copper management can be defined as a simple chain of four processes: production of refined copper from ore; manufacture and fabrication of products and goods; consumption, utilization and storage (infrastructure) of goods; and separation of copper from waste for recycling and finally, landfilling (waste management). Relevant recycling streams (new and old scrap) within or between production, manufacture, and waste management processes also characterize the system. Throughout the life cycle of copper the statistical entropy varies considerably among the above-mentioned processes and covers about 50% of the possible range between total dissipation and maximal concentration of the total throughput of copper. Nevertheless, present copper management does not show a clear entropy trend across its life cycle. The system as a whole neither dissipates nor concentrates copper significantly with regard to the original ore. Even a more optimized waste management system with higher recycling efficiency could not significantly change this finding since today's copper flows into waste management are small compared to the consumption of copper. The relatively limited impact on the entropy trend of contemporary waste management may increase in the future because the infrastructure, which has been established over the last few decades, will be continuously renewed and replaced. As a result of these larger waste streams, decreasing overall entropy trends will be realizable, provided efficient recycling technologies are applied. This indicates the possibility for long-term feasible (perhaps sustainable) copper management. The entropy approach improves our understanding of industrial metabolism and is a useful decision support and design tool, since complex systems can thereby be quantified by a single metric per substance. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
URL<Go to ISI>://000177127200007
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