Copper Recycling Facts 

  • A Boeing 727 contains about 9,000 pounds of copper
  • We’re in no danger of running out of copper. Known worldwide resources of this important and valuable metal are estimated at nearly 5.8 trillion pounds of which only about 0.7 trillion (12%) have been mined throughout history.
  • Nearly all of that 0.7 trillion (or 700 billion) pounds is still in circulation because copper’s recycling rate is higher than that of any other engineering metal.
  • Until well into the 1800s, most copper used in the U.S.A. had to be imported. Today, we are virtually self-sufficient and, worldwide, second only to Chile in production.
  • Each year in the U.S.A., nearly as much copper is recovered from recycled material as is derived from newly mined ore. Excluding wire production, most of which uses newly refined copper, more than three-fourths of the amount used by copper and brass mills, ingot makers, foundries, powder plants and other industries comes from recycled scrap.
  • Almost half of all recycled copper scrap is old post-consumer scrap, such as discarded electric cable, junked automobile radiators and air conditioners, or even ancient Egyptian plumbing. (Yes, it’s been around that long.)
  • The remainder is new scrap, such as chips and turnings from screw machine production.
  • U.S. copper mine production in 2002 dropped to 2,516 million pounds from 2001’s 2,954 million pounds.
  • The 2002 level of 7,313 million pounds is a 6.0% decrease from the revised 2001 level of 7,780 million pounds.
  • Exports of mill products in 2002 continued to decline also, down 7.1% at 735 million pounds versus imports of 909 million pounds, a decrease of 10.0% from 2001 levels.
  • The Statue of Liberty is made entirely of copper which is the reason it is green (from Patina(fancy for rust)). After being up since 1886 the weathering and oxidation of the copper skin has amounted to just .005 of an inch.
  • The Statue of Liberty is made of 179,000 pounds of copper
  • Copper is man’s oldest metal, dating back more than 10,000 years. A copper pendant discovered in what is now northern Iraq goes back to about 8700 B.C.
  • The H.M.S. Beagle, used by Charles Darwin for his historic voyages around the world, was built in 1825 with copper skins below the water line. The copper sheathing extended hull life and protected against barnacles and other kinds of biofouling. Today most seagoing vessels use a copper-containing paint for hull protection.
  • Paul Revere, of Revolutionary War fame, produced the copper hull sheathing, bronze cannon, spikes and pumps for the U.S.S. Constitution, known as “Old Ironsides.” Revere was one of the earliest American coppersmiths.
  • One of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls found in Israel is made of copper instead of more fragile animal skins. The scroll contains no biblical passages or religious writings – only clues to a still undiscovered treasure.
  • Archeologists have recovered a portion of a water plumbing system from the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. The copper tubing used was found in serviceable condition after more than 5,000 years.
  • A museum at the University of Pennsylvania displays a copper frying pan that has been dated to be more than 50 centuries old.
  • Some things never change! Ten thousand years ago, cave dwellers used copper axes as weapons and tools for survival. Today, high tech surgeons save lives and precious blood by using copper-clad scalpels. The copper conducts an electric current that heats the scalpel to make it self-cauterizing.
  • The first copper deposit worked extensively in America (by non-native Americans) is located in Granby, Connecticut. It was operated from 1705 until 1770.
  • Pure copper’s melting point is 1,981ºF (1,083ºC).
  • Brasses and Bronzes are probably the most well-known families of copper-base alloys. Brasses are mainly copper and zinc. Bronzes are mainly copper along with alloying elements such as tin, aluminum, silicon or beryllium.
  • Zebra mussels, brought to North America on freighters from Europe, are kept from clogging the water intakes of power companies around the Great Lakes through the use of copper alloy screens that reject their attachment and impede growth.
  • An average single-family home uses 439 pounds of copper.
    • In an average single-family home, you will find about:
      • 195 pounds – building wire
      • 151 pounds – plumbing tube, fillings, valves
      • 24 pounds – plumbers’ brass goods
      • 47 pounds – built-in appliances
      • 12 pounds – builders hardware
      • 10 pounds – other wire and tube
    • An average multifamily unit uses 278 pounds of copper:
      • 125 pounds – building wire
      • 82 pounds – plumbing tube, fittings, valves
      • 20 pounds – plumbers’ brass goods
      • 38 pounds – built-in appliances
      • 6 pounds – builders hardware
      • 7 pounds – other wire and tube
    • General levels of copper use in major appliances:
      • 52 pounds – unitary air conditioner
      • 48 pounds – unitary heat pump
      • 5.0 pounds – dishwasher
      • 4.8 pounds – refrigerator/freezer
      • 4.4 pounds – clothes washer
      • 2.7 pounds – dehumidifier
      • 2.3 pounds – disposer
      • 2.0 pounds – clothes dryer
      • 1.3 pounds – range
  • Some 10,000 copper range hoods and 20,000 weather vanes are produced annually, using about 7 pounds of copper each.
  • The average house has 12 lockset’s: 2½ are keyed, the rest are passage sets. The average multifamily unit has 6 lockset’s – 1½ keyed, the remainder are passage sets.
  • There are probably about a billion doorknobs in the U.S., weighing in with about 500-600 million pounds of copper.
  • There is an average of 50-55 electrical outlets per home and some 15-20 switches. That translates to between 2½ and 3 pounds of copper alloy for these uses per house.


Quite interesting facts and no wonder why there are so many theft issues with copper. Thank goodness Southern Metals is helping crack down on theft by following the new laws passed in October. We have increased the amount of documentation required when it comes to copper and other recycling materials.

If you have any questions on pricing or what materials we accept, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.
Thank you for recycling,

Southern Metals Recycling – Wilmington, NC

(910) 762-2646