copper scrap metal wire tubes for recycling

Industrial and Environmental Policies

The products provided by the European copper industry play important roles in re-industrialising the EU economy as well as in furthering innovation in low-carbon energy technologies.

Companies producing copper and semi-finished copper products, across Europe, are required to operate in compliance with increasingly demanding environmental legislation, for example on emissions to air and water, plus the handling and storage of waste and hazardous substances.

Site environmental permits are regulated by the IED (Industrial Emissions Directive 2010/75/EU), which replaces the previous IPPC Directive 96/61/EC. The IED requires Best Available Technologies (BAT) to be used and plant emissions to comply with the Associated Emission Limits (AELs) for dust and SO2 to air, and for metals to water. Publicly available, sector specific reference documents on BAT and their environmental performances (so called BREFs) are compiled and reviewed regularly in a joint effort by the EU Commission, Member States and industry itself. 

Throughout the past five years, ECI assisted the copper industry in reviewing extensively the copper chapter of the non-ferrous metals’ BREF.  Following the date of publication in the Official Journal, companies will have a maximum of four years to adapt their installations and permits to ensure compliance with the various binding emission limits. Site permit conditions also take into account individual Member State targets for ambient air, surface waters and waste.

 Other policy areas impacting the copper industry include:

  • Depending on the range of individual materials produced, some installations may fall under the scope of the Seveso Directive, which seeks to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances
  • All installations are directly or indirectly concerned by the provisions of chemicals legislation, such as the REACH Regulation 1907/2006
  • Since 2013, copper producers fall under the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme which incentivises companies to lower their CO2 emissions


copper industry contribution to EU economy infographic

Head of Unit, Eco-innovation and Circular Economy, DG Environment, Hugo Maria Schally, and MEP Karl-Heinz Florenz, express their opinions on the circular economy package. Industry's views are provided by Dirk Vandenberghe, CEO Metallo Chimique and John Schonenberger, ECI's Chief Executive.

ECI believes that an ambitious and binding energy efficiency target will support investment, create jobs and help achieve EU CO2 savings goals. We have invited Marie Donnelly, Director DG Energy at EC and MEP Jeppe Kofod to share with us their views on energy efficiency targets. A copper industry perspective is presented by Peter Willbrandt, CEO Aurubis AG, Europe's #1 copper producer, and John Schonenberger, Chief Executive, ECI.
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