What are our chief areas of interest?
The European copper industry is engaged on a large number of policy areas, many of which are key to the sustainable growth of the European Union.
As examples, copper is vital to improving the efficiency and performance energy applications and to make transportation, architecture and heating and cooling systems more environmentally friendly.
At ECI, we are committed to working with the EU institutions to help meet high-level objectives on policy areas such as climate change, resource and energy efficiency, as well as the re-industrialisation of Europe. In doing so, it is vital that we create a framework that also safeguard the competitiveness of the sector on a global level. Key issues in this regard include the Emissions Trading Scheme, REACH implementation and energy pricing.
The EU and national governments are adopting increasingly complex copper regulations covering, for example, consumer and environmental protection, occupational health and safety, industrial processes and the transport of metal-containing wastes. Again, ECI is working with regulators to ensure that these regulations are appropriate in their measures, serving the intended purpose in a way that is not detrimental to copper production, development, or market access.
One of ECI’s core competencies is to use the vast array of historical and ongoing research on copper’s impacts on the environment and on human health to fill key data-gaps through independent research and to consolidate these findings into useful communications.
This section provides an overview of the most important policy areas the European Copper Institute is currently engaging on. They are:
- Health and Environment
- Energy and Climate
- EU Emissions Trading System
- Resource Efficiency
Health and Environment
As copper is an essential element—necessary for the health and wellbeing of humans, plants and animals—its environmental impact cannot be assessed in the same way as artificial chemicals.
The chemical form of copper is very important in determining its biological availability, or bioavailability to organisms in the environment. The forms, distribution, transport and potential organism uptake and effects of copper in water, sediment and soil depend largely on the chemical and physical characteristics of the local environment, as well as the bioavailability of different forms to each organism.
Copper’s environmental impact affects several areas of nature. Many organisms have developed physiological or metabolic means for regulating, excreting and/or detoxifying excess amounts of internal copper and other essential elements. Thus, copper concentrations in tissues are not a good indicator of potential toxic effects on the organism, making the concept of ‘bioaccumulation’—as is used for organic compound classification as a persistent-bioaccumulative-toxic [PBT] chemical—inappropriate.
Companies producing copper and semi-finished copper products are required to operate in compliance with increasingly demanding and complex environmental legislation, for example on emissions to air and water, plus the handling and storage of waste and hazardous substances.
ECI and its member companies are actively contributing to the development of methodologies to determine rules on environmental foot-printing and on indicators that appropriately reflect cradle-to-gate approaches. Other examples of policies relevant for copper products are the rules for materials in contact with food and drinking water, environmental quality standards for water, restrictions on hazardous substances in electronics and the end-of-life vehicle directive.
All copper products are directly or indirectly concerned by the safe use conditions defined under chemicals management legislation, such as the REACH Regulation 1907/2006.
The European Copper Institute is actively engaged on key files for the industry both directly, as ECI, and through Eurometaux, the European non-ferrous metals association.
- Comments on “Technical guide on metals and alloys used as food contact” (ECI, April 2011)
- The Copper Voluntary Risk Assessment (ECI, April 2009)
- ECI’s Input to the Public Consultation on Circular Economy (ECI, August 2015)
- ECI expects that the new end-of-waste criteria for copper scrap will boost copper recycling in Europe (ECI, November 2013)
- Eurometaux Position on the review of the European waste management legislation(Eurometaux, September 2013)
- Business leaders unite in call to reconcile Europe’s climate and industrial policies. (Eurometaux, March 2013)
- Proposal for the Classification of Copper (ECI, February 2013)
- European Non-Ferrous Metals Industry: The Emissions Trading System (ETS) should remain a cost-effective tool to reduce emissions, not worsen the economic crisis (Eurometaux, July 2012)
- The benefits of Copper-containing sewage sludge (ECI, March 2012)
- Save energy and invest in efficiency. A joint response to the economic and climate crisis. (The Coalition for ENERGY SAVINGS, November 2011)
- Eurometaux and Euroalliages welcome the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee Vote on “An Effective Raw Materials Strategy for Europe” (Eurometaux, EuroAlliages, July 2011)
- Manifesto “Benefits of a Competitive European Copper Industry” (ECI, July 2010)
- The Copper Voluntary Risk Assessment (ECI, April 2009)
- Recommendation on the non-use of bismuth for lead substitution (ECI, September 2007)
- Mineral Resources in Life Cycle Impact Assessment – Defining the Path Froward (Euromines / ECI, November 2015)
- Comments and socio economic analysis for copper alloys. ECI’s input into the public consultation on the proposal for a restriction of lead and its compounds in articles intended for consumer use. (ECI, February 2014)
- Proposed Lead metal harmonized classification highlights problems with existing regulatory approach in deriving SCL for metals classified as toxic to reproduction. (Eurometaux, February 2014)
- Socio economic analysis on the changes in classification cut-off values of lead (ECI, November 2012)
Energy and Climate
Copper is a key enabler of the low-carbon economy. Its use in products and systems saves primary energy, CO2 emissions and money.
Copper is a highly efficient conduit: the best non-precious conductor of heat and electricity. This makes copper essential for both energy efficiency and renewable applications. In the latter it is used in renewable energy systems to generate power from solar, hydro, thermal and wind energy across the world. Additionally, copper helps the products containing it to operate at peak efficiency.
Copper therefore helps reduce CO2 emissions and lowers the amount of energy needed to produce electricity. At the same time, copper is circular: it is one of the few materials that can be recycled 100% over and over again without a loss in performance.
Because copper products are key enabling materials in combating climate change, their uses in renewables and energy efficient solutions are actively promoted in various EU energy policies, e.g. on energy efficiency, eco-labelling, Ecodesign, green public procurement and construction product directives.
The European Copper Institute is actively engaging on the key files of the Energy Union, both directly as ECI, through Leonardo Energy and DecarbEurope, two initiatives founded by ECI, Eurometaux and The Coalition for Energy Savings.
- Energy Union: ‘First stop, efficiency’ (The Coalition for ENERGY SAVINGS, November 2015)
- ECI Inputs into the Public Consultation on the Evaluation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD)(ECI/Leonardo ENERGY, October 2015)
- Ecodesign Directive: Six Reasons Why Building Automation Should Be Included in the 2015-2017 Working Plan (ECI / Leonardo ENERGY, October 2015)
- The Role of the Demand Side in the Power System (ECI / Leonardo ENERGY, October 2015)
- The Use of Electricity in Heating and Cooling Could Facilitate the Penetration of Renewables and Lower Carbon Emissions in Europe (ECI, September 2015)
- Copper Industry Calls for New Approach to Reduce EU Carbon Emissions (ECI, September 2015)
- European Energy Efficiency Industries call for Energy Efficiency First to be integrated in the EU Heating & Cooling Strategy (EEIF, September 2015)
- “A New Energy Market Design for an Energy Union that Delivers on Demand Side Flexibility and Efficiency First” (ECI & actors from Europe’s energy sector, July 2015)
- “Energy Efficiency First”: How to make it happen (The Coalition for ENERGY SAVINGS, May 2015)
- A European Energy Union for Electricity (ECI, February 2015)
- Position Paper on Ecodesign for Power Cables in Indoor Electrical Installations (ECI, December 2014)
- Copper Enables Energy Savings in a Multitude of Applications and Strives to Reduce Energy Consumption in its own Installations (ECI, September 2014)
- Policy case for intelligent controls in dwellings (ECI / Leonardo ENERGY, September 2014)
- Only 40% binding energy savings target for 2030 can deliver EU objectives for competitiveness, energy and climate (The Coalition for ENERGY SAVINGS, October 2013)
- Building Automation: The Scope for Energy and CO2 savings in the EU (ECI /Leonardo ENERGY, August 2013)
- The European Union’s future climate change and energy policies to 2030 – what would be the most competitive direction? (Eurometaux, July 2013)
- The need and necessity of an EU-Wide Renewable Energy Target for 2030 (ECI / Leonardo ENERGY, April 2013)
- Energy Efficiency Targets in the Context of Post-2020 EU Climate and Energy Policy: EU needs to set an ambitious, binding and coherent 2030 target for energy efficiency and savings (Energy Efficiency Industrial Forum, February 2013)
- Priority for energy efficiency in 2030 climate and energy policy framework (The Coalition for ENERGY SAVINGS, March 2013)
- Position on Regulation small, medium and large distribution and power transformers (ECI / Leonardo ENERGY, December 2012)
- Energy Roadmap 2050 on efficiency: many signs – no direction (The Coalition for ENERGY SAVINGS, December 2011)
- Energy savings to be first policy priority for 2030 ( The Coalition for ENERGY SAVINGS, November 2012)
EU Emissions Trading System
The European Emission Trading System (ETS) can be a powerful tool to fight climate change in a cost-effective way. While the European copper industry is supportive of the overall aim of the ETS, however, specific actions are needed to sustain competitiveness, growth and jobs.
Through significant capital investments, the EU copper producing industry has successfully reduced its own CO2 emissions by cutting its unit energy consumption by 60% versus 1990. Today, the industry’s emissions are around 4.5 million tonnes/year, a modest 0.1% of the EU total. Moreover, the European copper producers are amongst the most resource and energy efficient in the world.
Copper is highly exposed to carbon costs, both direct (e.g. from naturally-occurring ores), and those passed through via electricity prices (indirect effects). The European copper producers are price-takers, however, and unable to pass on costs such as those related to CO2 because copper prices are established globally via commodity exchanges such as London Metal Exchange (LME).
This makes it vital for ECI’s members to ensure that the ETS continues to protect the competitiveness of the best performers within energy-intensive industries. We also believe that the societal contributions of copper products towards achieving the EU’s Climate Change and Circular Economy goals, should merit consideration under ETS.
We need to ensure that ETS protects the competitiveness of best performers within energy-intensive industries and prevents carbon leakage.
- ETS Vote: MEPs act to tackle indirects, but compromise solution ultimately falls short (Eurometaux, December 2016)
- Post-2020 Reform of the EU Emissions Trading System. Five recommendations to make it work for indispensable metals(Eurometaux, October 2016)
- ECI’s Position on Carbon Leakage Qualification Criterion in the ETS (ECI, September 2016)
- ECI’s Input to the Public Consultation on the Revised EU ETS Directive: COM (2015)337/F1 (ECI, September 2015)
- ETS reform proposals: a missed opportunity for effective compensation of indirect costs (Eurometaux, July 2015)
- Consultation on revision of the EU Emission Trading System (EU ETS) Directive (ECI, March 2015)
- Consultation on revision of the EU Emission Trading System (EU ETS) Directive (Eurometaux, March 2015)
- ECI’s answer to stakeholder consultation on Emission Trading System (ETS) post-2020 carbon leakage provisions(ECI, July 2014)
- ETS allowances – Cross-sectoral reduction factor (CSRF) : Europe needs an industrial vision, not another burden(Eurometaux, September 2013)
- Contribution from EUROMETAUX to the stakeholder consultation on methodology for Commission decision determining the list of sectors and subsectors deemed exposed to a significant risk of carbon leakage for the period 2015-2019. (Eurometaux, July 2013)
Copper is 100% recyclable, without any loss in performance, and can therefore be reintroduced again and again into the material cycle. As such it is a perfect material for the circular economy.
Recycling prolongs the use of the earth’s natural resources and saves the energy otherwise consumed to process primary raw materials. Since copper recycling uses up to 85% less energy than mining production, today’s global recycling rates could save up to 85 million TWh of electrical energy, equivalent to the annual residential electricity consumption of 24 million families, thereby reducing CO2 emissions by 30 million tonnes per year.
The EU is leading worldwide when it comes to recycling copper, with about 50% of the annual copper need covered by recycled material. In fact, he EU is the only region of the world where some copper production sites use only recycled feedstock. Therefore, closing the material loop, by recovering copper and copper alloys from waste, is important for the copper industry, its downstream users and society at large.
Clearly, the recycling of any material needs to be carried out in compliance with EU and national legislation. However, this is easier said than done, Whilst waste legislation encourages recycling and strives to phase out landfill, other legislation seeks to further reduce industrial emissions to air, soil and water. As an example, recovering the copper and other metals from complex electronic scrap requires the combustion of the organic fraction. This requires more electricity and generates direct CO2 emissions, both of which are then penalised under the European Emission Trading Scheme.
Finally, as demand grows across the world, competition for raw material supplies is understandably increasing. To safeguard the competitiveness of its recycling facilities, the European copper industry is highly dependent on a steady supply of raw materials. The EU and Member States need to take further steps to ensure that high-tonnage waste streams, such as electric and electronic waste and end-of-life vehicles, both containing significant amounts of copper, stay in Europe and are recycled in our state-of-the-art installations.
- Copper’s Contribution to the EU’s Circular Economy (ECI’s Copper Wire Newsletter, February 2015)
- Eurometaux’s proposed measures to ensure an effective EU circular economy (Eurometaux, March 2015)
 UNEP International Resource Panel’s “Metal Recycling: Opportunities, Limits, Infrastructure”.