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The contemporary European copper cycle: 1 year stocks and flows

TitleThe contemporary European copper cycle: 1 year stocks and flows
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsSpatari S, Bertram M, Fuse K, Graedel TE, Rechberger H
Journal TitleEcological Economics
Volume42
Pages27-42
Accession NumberISI:000177127200005
KeywordsCopper, material budgets, Material flow analysis, Resource management, stocks and flows, systems analysis
AbstractSubstance flow cycles can provide a picture of resource uses and losses through a geographic region, allowing us to evaluate regional resource management and estimate gross environmental impacts. This paper traces the flow of copper as it enters and leaves the European economy over I year and provides the numerical accounting of copper flows that are further analyzed in a companion paper in this issue. We examine the major flows of copper from ore, as it is extracted from the earth, transformed into products, and discarded or recycled. A regional material flow model was developed to estimate patterns of copper use in the early 1990s in select European countries. Successive mass balance calculations were used to determine copper flows, including the amount of metal that enters use in society and is deposited in waste repositories. A database that records temporal and spatial boundary conditions and data quality was developed for continental substance flow analysis. The majority of copper is mined, smelted, and refined outside of Europe. Across the life cycle, a net total of 1900 Gg/year of copper is imported into Europe. About 40% of cathode copper produced within the system is made from old and new scrap. It is estimated that approximately 8 kg of copper per person enters use in society, largely in infrastructure, buildings, industry, and private households. The majority of copper in finished products is contained in pure form (70%), the remainder in alloy form. The waste management system in Europe recycles about 60% of the copper from waste. The copper discard flow from post-consumer waste is roughly five times higher than that from copper production waste. This ratio would decrease if we consider production wastes generated outside of the European system boundary. The net addition of copper to the stock in society in the system is about 6 kg/person. Given the in-service lifetime of the applications of copper identified in this model, most of the copper processed during the last few decades still resides in society, mostly in non-dissipative uses. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
URL<Go to ISI>://000177127200005
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