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Scenarios for anthropogenic copper demand and supply in China: Implications of a scrap import ban and a circular economy transition

: Dong, Di; Tercero Espinoza, Luis A.; Loibl, Antonia; Pfaff, Matthias; Tukker, Arnold; Voet, Ester van der

Fulltext urn:nbn:de:0011-n-5932895 (3.8 MByte PDF)
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Created on: 26.6.2020

Resources, conservation and recycling 161 (2020), Art. 104943, 14 pp.
ISSN: 0921-3449
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer ISI ()
copper supply; circular economy; scrap import ban; Green Fence policy; recycling; material flow analysis

Copper is widely used in buildings, transportation and home appliances, resulting in steadily increasing demand in China. From 2013 on, China has implemented the “Green Fence” policy to restrict copper scrap imports, which have affected and will continue to affect its future copper supply. To explore how China's copper demand can be met in the future, including the effects of the “Green Fence” policy change, in this paper a stock-driven approach is combined with a scenario analysis. We compare two scenarios (Continuity Policy, Circular Economy) and assess the influence of the “Green Fence” policy on each. We conclude that effective measures to prolong product lifetime could lead to a significant reduction in copper demand. Given the limited scope for domestic mining, China will still have to depend largely on imports of primary material in the form of concentrates and refined copper or, otherwise, put major emphasis on its recycling industry and continue to import high-quality copper scrap. In combination with the establishment of a state-of-the-art, efficient and environmentally friendly recycling industry, secondary copper could satisfy the bulk of Chinese copper demand and this could be an opportunity for China to transition to a more circular economy with regard to copper.