Copper is reddish, malleable and ductile metallic element with excellent thermal and electrical conductive qualities. It is a very important industrial material and is used in the electrical, electronics, transportation and construction industries.
Because of its properties, singularly or in combination, of high ductility, malleability, and thermal and electrical conductivity, and its resistance to corrosion, copper has become a major industrial metal, ranking third after iron and aluminum in terms of quantities consumed.
Copper is one of the materials which contribute strongly to economic growth in Europe. This material is very significant to the economy because it has many different application in a wide range of key economic sectors.
Although copper is relatively easy to recycle, the recycling rate has been static for some time. All-in-all, the EU Recycling Input Rate increased to 40% in 2008, up from 38% in 2007. The unique qualities of copper make it difficult to substitute. That said, copper use in a number of non-electrical construction applications can be replaced by aluminum or non-metal materials. This is a seizable proportion of existing use. Aluminum substitutes are used for copper in power cables, electrical equipment, automobile radiators, and cooling and refrigeration tube; titanium and steel are used in heat exchangers; optical fiber substitutes for copper in telecommunications applications; and plastics substitute for copper in water pipe, drain pipe, and plumbing fixtures.