Copper Recycling in Chicago

Copper Recycling: Processes & Benefits

Copper is a popular metal due to its high resilience, electrical connectivity, and durability. These traits allow copper to be used in generators, wiring for houses and cars, and in various applications and everyday objects like lights, radios, TVs, and more.

With so many functional uses, copper is a valuable material. Even scrap copper and copper wiring can hold high value making it a vital recycling material.

Recycling copper can be a great way to protect the environment, reduce mining for copper ore, and generate new copper for reuse.

Copper is a great choice for recycling as it does not have its electrical connectivity when recycled due to its extremely durable nature. It can also be a way to limit wasted materials, reduce mining, and produce a healthier environment. 

Why recycle copper?

One of the best reasons to recycle copper is to prevent waste. Since copper does not lose its connectivity over time, it can be recycled and repurposed over and over again without losing its functionality.

Recycling copper reduces the need to mine virgin copper ore from the earth, which is a limited resource. This can also reduce the negative impacts mining can cause to the natural environment.

Copper is also a non-ferrous metal so it does not feature iron so it is not magnetic. This makes copper more expensive and increases its value. Recycling copper can help lower the price as recycling requires less energy and time to collect copper ore.

The copper recycling process used 85 percent less energy than the energy required for mining copper.

Copper is extremely durable as well, meaning it does not deteriorate easily. This results in unrecycled copper sitting in landfills without deteriorating and producing unhealthy waste.

Recycling copper can promote sustainability for copper resources and healthy environment practices for individuals and businesses alike. 

Why is recycling copper difficult?

Recycling copper can be difficult as there are many types of copper. Each type changes the amount of recyclable material available and the time needed to clean or strip the copper.

Most recycling facilities will process bare bright copper as it is the most valuable. Copper tubing and copper chops are also options.

Insulated copper wire is a purer copper making it completely recyclable, while other copper wires contain materials besides copper which can contaminate the recycled copper or require time to clean.

Separating these materials can be challenging and time-consuming. While some facilities may separate them for customers, it is important to check first and ensure they accept all copper types.

Some recycling facilities offer chopping machines to separate copper from insulation and other materials.

Stripping electrical wire may take time, but it is important to note that burning the materials off the copper is not an option. This can cause damage to the environment, your health, and in many places is illegal.

Process of recycling copper

The process for recycling copper begins with collecting the copper scraps and separating the various metals you are collecting. You can further separate the copper into clean and dirty sections that still need insulation removed.

Once at the recycling facility, the copper is broken down into smaller pieces to separate copper from insulation and other materials. This prevents contamination.  Then after examining the quality, a density separator divides the copper pieces further.

A final quality exam ensures there are no contaminations before the copper is melted down. The copper is cast into rods to be redistributed.

Where to recycle copper?

As previously mentioned, it is important to locate a recycling facility that meets your copper recycling requirements. This may involve the facility separating the different types of copper or stripping the copper for you.

Always review the rules for cleaning and stripping copper before delivering. It is also important to make sure the facility accepts all the copper types you are wishing to recycle.

There are many types of copper. Recycling facilities often break them into four categories based on their structure, function, and to what degree they need to be stripped.

Copper with no insulation means it has already been stripped and does not have oil or oxidization.

The second group features copper with few imperfections but requires more complicated cleaning.

Copper used in roofing or similar construction areas is often separated as it may have dirt, paint, or other grime that will need to be removed.

Copper wiring is the final category, which includes many instructions for how to be properly stripped and recycled.

Where to recycle copper wire?

Copper wire is a popular form of recyclable copper, but it can be challenging to strip the insulation. You should never burn off the insulation as it can cause pollution and mark the copper.

Like all copper, recycling copper wire requires finding a recycling facility that accepts the material. Make sure to review the list of materials that can and cannot be recycled.


All American Recycling’s Copper Recycling Solution

All American Recycling provides solutions for all your recycling needs including copper and copper wire. See our state-of-the-art Wire Chopping Line Services!

We offer three retail locations (Aurora, Ford Height, Joliet) within the Chicago area for recycling scrap metals which can be dropped off or we can picked up and bring to all four of our locations. No matter the load size for both consumers, businesses, and construction sites.

We accept tubing, electric motors, radiators, transformers, ballasts, and more. Both insulated and stripped copper wire are also accepted.

Other materials that can be recycled include both ferrous and non-ferrous metals like brass, stainless steel, aluminum, batteries, carbide, and lead.