Exploring future copper demand, recycling and associated greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-28
Ciacci, L., Fishman, T., Elshkaki, A., Graedel, T.E., Vassura, I., and Passarini, F. (2020) Exploring future copper demand, recycling and associated greenhouse gas emissions in the EU-28. Global Environmental Change. 63. 102093.
In this paper, the authors explore the possible evolution of four scenarios of copper demand in Europe to 2050.
In a “business as usual” scenario, the modelled future domestic demand can only be met by increasing primary inputs and, despite strong efforts to improve recycling at end-of-life, the fraction of old scrap in total metal demand seems likely to achieve 65% at best. Should that scenario ensue, the GHG emissions embodied in EU copper demand might result in an emissions gap of more than 260% the carbon dioxide reduction target.
In contrast, the lowest environmental impacts are associated with a scenario emphasizing green technology and more equitable lifestyles. In that scenario, the secondary copper flows will gradually approach the expected demand, laying the foundation for achieving a circular economy with considerable potential for preserving natural capital and mitigating climate change.
This possible future, however, requires dramatic changes in the current pattern of material production and consumption, including the need for diversification of primary mineral supplies.
The full paper can be found here.