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Keywords:

  • copper;
  • industrial ecology;
  • in-use stocks;
  • metals recovery;
  • resource management;
  • substance flow analysis (SFA)

Summary

Copper (Cu) is an essential but supply-restricted resource in China. Characterization of in-use stocks can provide useful instruction for the future recycling of copper. This article attempts to estimate copper in-use stocks in a Chinese city. To this purpose, an extensive bottom-up estimate of copper stocks in use in Nanjing in the year 2009 was conducted. The results are a total stock estimate of 295 gigagrams (Gg) of copper or 46.9 kilograms (kg) of copper per capita for 2009. Infrastructure, equipment, and buildings contain 42.0%, 26.1%, and 28.1% of the total stock, respectively, indicating that these three categories are principal potential reservoirs of a secondary copper resource. The copper in transportation amounts to only about 3.7% of the total amount. The per capita stock was compared with similar studies carried out in other regions of the world, and the results show that the Nanjing level is significantly lower than developed countries. On the whole, our results show that electric power transmission and distribution systems, buildings, household durables, and industrial equipment are the four largest potential reservoirs of copper scrap.