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Dynamic Analysis of Global Copper Flows. Global Stocks, Postconsumer Material Flows, Recycling Indicators, and Uncertainty Evaluation

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journal contribution
posted on 16.12.2015 by Simon Glöser, Marcel Soulier, Luis A. Tercero Espinoza
We present a dynamic model of global copper stocks and flows which allows a detailed analysis of recycling efficiencies, copper stocks in use, and dissipated and landfilled copper. The model is based on historical mining and refined copper production data (1910–2010) enhanced by a unique data set of recent global semifinished goods production and copper end-use sectors provided by the copper industry. To enable the consistency of the simulated copper life cycle in terms of a closed mass balance, particularly the matching of recycled metal flows to reported historical annual production data, a method was developed to estimate the yearly global collection rates of end-of-life (postconsumer) scrap. Based on this method, we provide estimates of 8 different recycling indicators over time. The main indicator for the efficiency of global copper recycling from end-of-life (EoL) scrapthe EoL recycling ratewas estimated to be 45% on average, ± 5% (one standard deviation) due to uncertainty and variability over time in the period 2000–2010. As uncertainties of specific input datamainly concerning assumptions on end-use lifetimes and their distributionare high, a sensitivity analysis with regard to the effect of uncertainties in the input data on the calculated recycling indicators was performed. The sensitivity analysis included a stochastic (Monte Carlo) uncertainty evaluation with 105 simulation runs.