The benefits and sustainability of copper

As a population, we have become increasingly aware of the environmental impacts of our actions. More and more sustainable practices have been implemented in recent years, from the government introducing new regulations to households making a more concentrated effort to recycle.

Alongside these practices, the role of plumbing and engineering merchants cannot be overstated when it comes to sustainability and the circular economy.

To help professionals within the trades better understand this role, Lawton Tubes and the Copper Sustainability Partnership (CuSP) look at the importance of proactive sustainability and the responsibility of merchants in supporting a circular supply chain within the industry.

Circularity in plumbing and engineering

The traditional consumption model sees resources firstly made into products, then the products are used, and finally they become waste at the end of life, resulting in more debris being sent to landfill and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

In contrast, the circular economy reduces material use, redesigns products to be more efficient and transforms products at the end of their life to be used again.

Recycling of copper

Within the trades, the circular model works at its best with the use of metals that are suitable to be reused or melted down to be remade into an entirely new product. A prime example of this is copper, which is infinitely recyclable.

Sustainability of copper

Copper is considered to be one of the most environmentally friendly metals due to its remarkable durability. It is estimated that around 80% of all copper produced in the last 10,000 years is still in use today. Moreover, recycling copper consumes 15% to 40% less energy than producing it from scratch, making it feasible to reuse.

The metal has protection against corrosion as it has a naturally occurring film that forms on the surface, making it especially suitable for use in various rural, marine and industrial environments.

It is also an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, making it more efficient during energy transfer. The surface area of copper heats up evenly and is a slow radiator, allowing it to retain heat for longer. This means less energy is used to heat a system, which reduces costs and has less of an impact on the environment. 

Known to be one of the first metals to be used by humans, copper has been used over centuries for different applications, ranging from HVAC solutions to health care – the function of copper is endless!

Other benefits

Not only is copper durable, but the metal is also extremely tough yet malleable and ductile. This means that it can be quickly joined, stretched and recycled. Due to its molecular structure, copper can be reshaped to fit tight, intricate spaces without breaking. 

Naturally antimicrobial, copper is resistant to bacteria, viruses, and fungi, as it releases oxidising atoms when microbes land on its surface, pulling electrons from the atoms that make up the cell wall and ultimately killing the microbe.

Copper’s melting point is approximately 1,085°C, which exceeds the temperature of the average building fire. This means that copper pipes installed in homes and offices can be trusted not to spread the blaze in the event of a fire. The same cannot be said for plastic pipes, which are known to catch fire and spread toxic fumes at high temperatures.

Having copper in your diet can also positively impact your body, as it helps maintain bone health, nerves, blood vessels, the immune system, and the creation of red blood cells. Copper can also help to prevent serious illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

Lawton Tubes and CuSP battling climate change.

Lawton Tubes has been working with the Copper Sustainability Partnership (CuSP) to challenge, educate and inform industry leaders about the benefits of copper. They aim to combat the overuse of plastics and support the businesses we work with in, implementing a renewable solution for the future to safeguard the natural world.

Lawton’s has significantly reduced plastic packaging from their product offering by removing over 2 million plastic tube end caps from the supply chain.

The CuSP was developed by Lawton Tubes and Mueller Europe, who have joined together to promote the environmental benefits of copper.

Click here to find out more about Lawton Tubes’ sustainability goals.

Find out more information about the Copper Sustainability Partnership (CuSP) here.