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Copper industry calls for framework to protect innovation and competitiveness



The European copper industry has proposed a set of principles which it believes will ensure a balanced regulatory framework designed to support innovation and protect competitiveness.

Copper is crucial in clean technologies and the manufacture of resource-efficient products, according to the ‘Manifesto for a competitive European copper industry’, published by the European Copper Institute (ECI) in June 2010. The ECI calls for a balance between EU policies that focus on sustainability and resources efficiency and those necessary to maintain a competitive business environment.

The metal can have a significant positive environmental impact. Copper is 100% recyclable, durable and has high electrical and thermal conductivity, placing it at the centre of clean-technology developments in sectors such as sustainable building and transport. Use of copper can also help to improve resource efficiency, a key driver of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. For example, high-performance copper alloys have enabled the miniaturisation of everyday items such as mobile phones, computers, cameras and MP3 players.

Copper can also be recycled again and again without affecting performance, making it exceptionally sustainable. “40% of European copper demand is met today through the recycling of end-of-life products and offcuts from the downstream value [chain],” says John Schonenberger, ECI Chief Executive.

ECI outlines five principles necessary to balance EU policy objectives and competitiveness:

  • Keep Europe globally competitive on energy and climate-change policy;
  • Ensure fair access to the raw materials required for copper production;
  • Expand the use of life-cycle methodologies in impact assessments;
  • Support innovation through R&D funding and public procurement. Public procurement and eco-labelling schemes should support innovation in downstream applications that deliver resource and energy efficiency. Moreover, co-financing of research on upstream processes to reduce resource consumption and increase the recovery of scrap must be encouraged; and
  • Link environmental legislation to core policies such as REACH and IPPC. The industry – which recognises its obligations to comply with the existing legislative framework – calls on Members States to use such legislation rather than other assessment methods.

More information

Europe leads world in copper recycling

According the International Copper Study Group, 23.5 million tonnes of copper were used worldwide in 2008. Europe is the only region in which use of recycled copper increased. Europe met 43% of its copper demand from recycling in 2008 compared with 41.3% in 2007. The figure for EU Member States grew from 38% in 2007 to 40% in 2008.

More information:

International Copper Study Group: