Copper Shortage Means More Business for Recyclers

Teresa Madaleno:

While Sparta Group’s research project looking into the recovery of lithium and other metals from spent Lithium- ion batteries is underway with collaborators at the University of Ottawa, we hear more discussion about the shortage of metals.

Business journalists and bloggers have been writing about a decrease in access to lithium, silver, palladium, and nickel; however, there is also a shortage of copper. While this should spell more doom and gloom for companies that rely on metals, Sparta Group’s e-waste recycling division wants them to know that copper is one of the few materials that can be recycled repeatedly without any loss of performance. In fact, Sparta comes across copper every day at its e-waste recycling facility.

“There has always been a demand for recycled copper and all indications are that the demand is going to skyrocket. We have a streamlined process for recycling/recovery of e-waste and so much of what comes through our doors has copper in it,” said Sparta President, John O’Bireck

Industry experts say supply chain issues are not the only reason for the shortage of new copper. It can be blamed on several factors, including those listed below:

  • Decline in the discovery of new copper deposits
  • Rise in demand for copper
  • Reduction is quality of copper ore
  • Surge in demand for property building
  • Demand for clean energy

Recycled copper is also gaining interest due to its cost-effectiveness. The production process uses much less energy. Market researcher, Market Data Forecast reports that last year (2021), the global recycled copper market was approximately 64 billion (USD), but it is expected to grow to 95 billion (USD) by 2027.

Copper is required in the in the equipment and devices that society increasingly depends on. For example, it is needed for high-tech products, electrical jobs, tools, musical instruments, fabrication of railways, ships, planes, and automobiles, as well as a long list of other applications.

According to analysts with strategic researcher BNEF, investing in technologies related to recycling could help meet the growing demand for copper supply.

“We know that these shortages are posing a challenge for those who have never thought about using recycled metals, but we strongly believe that this is a great opportunity for firms like ours to show them that using recycled metals makes a whole lot of sense. It not only saves them from waiting for new supply, but it can also be cost effective and is kinder to the environment,” O’Bireck explained.