LONDON European metals trade and recycling federation Eurometrec opposes a proposal put forward by the European Commission to classify copper scrap as waste if the volume of foreign materials contained in it exceeds 2 percent of scrap weight.
"Weve been campaigning adamantly against this. We have been fighting hard against the 2 percent," Robert Voss, the federations president, told AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin on Jan. 17, noting that the classification is unnecessarily stringent and would lead to the vast majority of scrap traded globally being classified as waste.
The organization has lobbied for the foreign material tolerance to be raised to 5 percent of total scrap weight, possibly allowing for No. 2 copper scrapwhich has a 94- to 96-percent copper content and is the most widely traded scrap gradeto avoid the waste classification.
No. 1 copper scrap has a 96- to 98-percent copper content, while bare bright wire has a minimum 99-percent copper content.
"Our suggestion of 5 percent is much more realistic. At 2 percent, the vast majority of copper scrap traded globally, and both within and outside of the (European Union), would fail to satisfy this categorization," Voss said, calling the 2-percent limit "totally unrealistic."
E.U. member states were presented with a draft of the regulations in 2012. However, some opposed the 2-percent foreign material criterion as too stringent, according to the European Commission.
The commissions Joint Research Centre concluded in a technical report that "2 percent represents a safe environmental limit value on foreign materials for copper scrap to cease to be waste."
Other metals, earth, dust, insulation and glass, as well as other chemical or organic substances such as rubber, plastic or wood, can be classified as foreign material.
For copper scrap to be used as feedstock in pure copper production, it must not be contaminated with oil or oily emulsions, the proposed regulation states, adding that copper barrels and containers must be emptied and cleaned for the metal to be used as production feedstock, while cables should be chopped or stripped and plastics removed.
Once agreed upon by the European Parliament and the E.U.s Council of Ministers, the criteria would be added to the broader-based E.U. 2008 waste framework directive.
The European Commission, which supports the Joint Research Centres conclusion on the safety of the limit, said it might review the criteria if "adverse effects on recycling markets for copper scrap are noted, in particular with regard to the availability of and access to such scrap."
Carmen Paun, Brussels, contributed to this story.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Metal Bulletin.