Trends in U.S. Copper and Scrap and Effects of Product Shifts


Copper alloy scrap provides about half of the copper consumed in the United States each year. Copper alloy cast products depend on this scrap stream for production of 100% of the ingot and other furnace charge metal. Automotive radiator and cast plumbing product scrap have been important components to the scrap used by the U.S. scrap smelting industry. Both are undergoing rapid change in the U.S. but for very different reasons. This paper describes the impact of the aluminum radiator on the copper/brass radiator market in the U.S., Europe and Japan and the reaction of the copper industry to this market loss. New lead-free plumbing alloys employing bismuth or bismuth and selenium are gaining market share and will be a factor in recycled material. Concerns about alloy contamination are discussed and the reasoning on this issue in the U.S. elaborated upon.