Copper and zinc recycling in Australia: potential quantities and policy options

Journal Article

This paper presents relevant data for industry and governmental policy makers with the aim of increasing the recycling rate of end-of-life copper and zinc in Australia in a technically and economically feasible way. The methodology used to quantify and spatially distribute end-of-life flows of copper and zinc is based on existing and anticipated in-use stocks, their residence times, and their historical and anticipated future evolution. Australia currently (ca. 2000) generates about 72 Gg/year and 57 Gg/year of end-of-life copper and zinc, respectively. Some 70% of all discarded copper and 40% of all discarded zinc generated in Australia are currently being recycled. A detailed assessment shows that about 75% of all end-of-life material in Australia comes from the three states New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. In Australia, about 70e75% of waste copper and waste zinc is generated in urban areas. Residential applications account for about 40% (copper) and 60% (zinc) of the generated discards; commercial and industrial applications account for the remainder. By 2030, the discard flows are predicted to increase by about 105% and 155%, to 150 Gg Cu/year and 145 Gg Zn/year, providing substantially increased opportunities for recovery and re-use. Priority targets for the improvement of copper and zinc recycling in Australia are buildings under renovation, urban infrastructure, the transportation sector, and also consumer and business durables. Urban centres are particularly attractive locations for recycling facilities, especially in Perth and Adelaide.

Reference spaces

  • Adelaide
  • Brisbane
  • Melbourne
  • Perth
  • Sydney