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What Is the Process for Recycling Copper?


Recycled copper is in high demand. Because of its highly conductive and less corrosive nature, copper is ideal for electrical motors and wiring, plumbing fixtures, heating elements, and electronics. Recycling copper is less expensive than mining new material, the demand for clean, previously used material is always high. From a sustainability perspective, recycling copper is very positive. The amount of energy required to mine new copper far exceeds what is needed to recover new material.  Moreover, clean, uncontaminated copper can be reused several times without affecting its conductivity, malleability, or beautiful appearance.

Where Do You Find Recyclable Copper Materials?

Copper is abundant. As a highly conductive material, copper has been the primary component in electrical wiring and motors more than a century. Because copper conducts heat well, it is present in cooking devices, air conditioners, furnaces, and automotive radiators. In a large automobile, there can be as much as 100 pounds of copper in the various components. Moreover, copper is also widely used for plumbing materials and tubing in homes and other settings.

What is the Process for Recycling Copper Wire?

The process for recovering recyclable copper depends upon how it has been used. For small wire to large electrical cable, splitting and separating with the right equipment is the best option. Some misinformed individuals have tried to separate the copper from the coating with fire to melt away the plastic. They often find that this damages the copper and lowers its value. Mid-Atlantic Waste Systems presents Bronneberg’s world-class line of cable and wire splitters ranging in size from the tabletop Kab-V cable stripper to the larger, higher volume Kab-X and Kab-W equipment. The Kab-W is capable of stripping cables up to 7” in diameter in a single pass. For variable-sized cables and wires, powerful granulator equipment is the most practical. Separating the metal from the coatings by reducing the material to small granules is highly effective. Mid-Atlantic Waste’s efficient granulators include: Each of these machines is designed for different volumes of material and accessories to facilitate the operations. For splitting tough electric motors to extract the copper inside, Mid-Atlantic Waste’s electric motor recycler can make quick work of the toughest iron or aluminum outer casings. The equipment can easily split the outer shell to retrieve the valuable copper and aluminum inside.

The Final Step in the Recycling Process

Once the copper has been reduced to a reusable form and baled, the final process is to transport the recovered copper to a smelter where it is melted, formed, and eventually smoothed into flat sheets to begin a new life.

Uses of Recycled Copper

A large percentage of copper returns to manufacturers to produce similar products as before. Some copper finds its way into copper alloys such as brass for other purposes.

Partner with Mid Atlantic Waste Systems

Mid-Atlantic Waste partners with world-class manufacturers of state-of-the-art recycling and waste management equipment. Copper materials used in wiring and cable, electric motors, tubing, and plumbing materials can be efficiently separated from any protective coating. Mid-Atlantic wire and cable strippers make quick work of material from 1/8” wire to 7” inch cable, yielding clean, high-quality, ready-to-recycle copper. Alternatively, for highly variable material, the Monster EVO or the MG Series of high- volume granulators reduce cable materials to small particles and then separate the copper from their protective coatings with 99.9% precision on the first pass. Contact Mid-Atlantic Waste and let an expert advise you about the copper recycling process and which is the best equipment for your available scrap materials!