Metal recycling saves both energy and CO2 emissions compared to metal extraction from primary sources. All recycling plants of REWIMET members together save around 5,200,000 t of CO2 emissions per year. Metal recycling is active climate protection!

CO2 Einsparung (t) seit 01.01.2020

How does the number come out?

The calculation is based on the member companies' self-assessment. As part of their master's theses at the Clausthal Technical University, two students determined the CO2 emissions saved by recycling of iron, aluminum, copper, gold, silver, palladium, zinc, gallium, germanium and indium. For reasons of data protection, we do not publish any details on the recovered metal quantities and specific emissions of individual member companies.

Reference values

Emissions from the recycling facilities of REWIMET members are determined based on the availability of consumption data. Reference values from the literature are used for primary production. Data from the ProBas database of the Federal Environment Agency and the Ecoinvent database are mainly used. CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuels are easy to calculate because they are the same all over the world. In contrast, CO2 emissions from electricity generation not only differ from country to country, but they also change from year to year due to the increasing share of green electricity - especially in Germany.

Allocation of emissions

In most primary and secondary production processes, not only one metal is extracted, but several metals. The length of the process chains is also different. For example, the production of copper ends with the removal of the cathodes from the electrolysis bath, while the precious metals can only be obtained from the anode sludge of the copper electrolysis by further processes with the release of further emissions. The emissions of the overall process therefore must be divided among the metals. The distribution of emissions (called "allocation") is carried out uniformly in the master's theses according to the value of the metals in which they had been on average over the past 10 years up to the data collection.

System boundaries

When determining CO2 emissions from primary production, reference values are used that encompass the entire production chain from the ore deposit to the metal that can be used industrially. In secondary production, the process chain from the waste generator to the metal that can be used industrially is considered and balanced. In many cases, the primary and secondary production routes are combined in metal production. The proportional emissions are then identical from this point to the finished product.