Everyone agrees that recycling must be part of the answer to how the world is going to supply enough metals for global decarbonization. The only question is how much current recycling rates can be elevated. Consider the aluminium can – the oldest and easiest recyclable consumer product – only 75% of cans are recycled in Europe and much less than that in the US.
Recycling copper is more technically difficult, particularly for “old scrap” and particularly in the Western World, which closed much of its old scrap capacity in the late 20th century. The world has got used to sending its old dirty scrap to China for recycling. China banned imports of all “foreign garbage” from 2020 but has just relented on what it now terms “high-grade recyclable resource.” It may offer a lesson for the rest of the world that old scrap isn’t “waste” but can and should be recycled at home.