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Ecological Economics 42 (2002) 5 – 7

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The contemporary European copper cycle: introduction

An analytical tool coming into increasing use in ing the stocks and flows of the material in a
industrial ecology is materials flow analysis substance flow cycle.
(MFA). A related tool is substance flow analysis The characterization of cycles has a rich history
(SFA); the distinction is that MFA can address in the atmospheric and biogeochemical communi-
composite flows —all flows related to a city or a ties, which over the past decade or so have pro-
country, for example — whereas SFA is directed duced increasingly detailed and accurate cycles for
toward a specific substance, such as lead or carbon and other elements with strong or domi-
polyethylene. SFA is thus a component of MFA. nant natural sources and sinks. In contrast, much
The SFA analysis approach involves choosing a less effort has been expended on materials whose
material for study, identifying the system to be cycles are dominated by anthropogenic activity.
analyzed (a corporation, a city, a country, the This is an important challenge to address, as the
planet), and then attempting to answer some or information provided by such exercises will be
all of the following questions: useful in discussions related to resource availabil-
“ How much material enters the system?
ity, long-term environmental change, and public
“ How is the material transformed?
policy. In the few cases thus far where anthropo-
“ How much material escapes from the system to
genic cycle analysis has been conducted, powerful
the environment?
results have emerged:
“ How much material is added to the stock in
“ The global lead SFA of Thomas and Spiro
(1994) showed the magnitudes of toxic, but
“ How much material is archived in landfills and
other reservoirs? highly recycled batteries, and of less toxic, but
“ How much material is recycled?
unrecycled paint and ammunition.
“ What trends exist in these flows and stocks? “ The US mercury SFA of Ayres (1997) showed
A major motivation for addressing these ques- that large quantities of mercury used in chlo-
tions is humanity’s burgeoning rate of use of rine production are apparently in storage in
materials. An example, typical of almost any in- industrial holding ponds.
dustrial material, is the use of copper in the last “ The global nitrogen SFA of Kinzig and So-
three centuries, shown in Fig. 1. Integrating the colow (1994) showed that anthropogenic mobi-
rate of copper use over time quickly demonstrates lization of atmospheric nitrogen now exceeds
that about 90% of all copper mined and put into natural flows.
service throughout five millennia of human his- “ The cadmium SFA of Stigliani et al. (1994) for
tory did so during the 20th century, 70% of it in the Rhine Basin, demonstrating that reason-
only the last 50 years. Where is the copper now? able changes in soil acidity could result in
This question can best be addressed by quantify- unhealthy human cadmium intake rates.

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2002). environment.6 Introduction “ The Dutch heavy metals SFA of Van der Voet resources at various spatial and temporal scales. 1. but The flows of copper to various end-of-life reser- are clearly preliminary. This project. Among the conclu- Despite these successes. mately equivalent to the rate of loss to the cially those of the metals. The global rate of copper consumption during the 18 – 20th centuries. The extant studies of the anthropogenic components. . (2000) emphasized the losses that result The first product of these efforts is a detailed cycle from trace concentrations in fodder and for contemporary copper flows in Europe. supported principally by the US Finally. et al.. Import and export flows are important ized. Yale University. Paper I fertilizer. The cycle itself is presented in country. and discussed. The data are from World Bureau of Metal Statistics (1910– 2000) and Craig (1998). Paper II (Spatari et al. sions are that the recycling of copper is approxi- Cycles dominated by anthropogenic activity. the emerging technique of statistical National Science Foundation. are highly dynamic. quantified. there is much left to do. The four papers that follow demonstrate some 2002). seeks to develop entropy analysis is used in Paper IV by Rech- comprehensive cycles for important technological berger and Graedel (2002) to study the European Fig. of the opportunities afforded by increasingly de.. ing finding. voirs are described in Paper III (Bertram et al. espe. Seven types of waste are identified. They arise stage of the copper cycle of waste from electrical from the Stocks and Flows (STAF) Project at the and electronic equipment is a particularly interest- Center for Industrial Ecology.. 2002) describes the components of “ The country-level MFA of Matthews et al. the cycle (some 30 reservoirs) and the methods (2000) demonstrated the major additions to used for determination of the flows that connect embedded stock that occur in country after the reservoirs. (Graedel et al. stantial. The importance to this tailed analyses of anthropogenic cycles. cycles have revealed much useful information. and that additions to stock are sub- with many of the flows incompletely character.

T. Rechberger. In: Socolow. R. 1994. Emissions and exposure to metals: cadmium and lead. (Eds. USA Ecol.graedel@yale. V. The contemporary European copper Construction of cycles of anthropogenically con- cycle: one-year stocks and flows. concentrates nor dissipates the overall quantity of DC.. Ecol. CT 06511. Cambridge national materials budgets (Matthews et al.. in others by the colow. W. Bertram. (This issue).. 1997.. The construction of techno- continental scale cycles provide much information logical copper cycles.. Berkhout. S. Ecol. 2002.. Phys. Gordon. tion or dissipation of copper at different points in The contemporary European copper cycle: the waste man- agement subsystem.. Acknowledgements World Bureau of Metal Statistics. . Jaffe. Human impacts on the nitrogen cycle. communities. Graedel. Graedel. C. Yale Uni6ersity. K.E... World Resources allow conclusions to be drawn concerning the Institute. 1998. (Eds.. Thomas. V. The Netherlands.. T. National Academy of Engineering.. Spatari. 2002. Washington. well-quantified materials cycles C. In: So- etary nature of the information.. DC.. Rech- Overall.. Industrial Ecology and Global Change. Heavy Metals: A Problem Solved? Kluwer Aca- demic. simple lack of measurements. Graedel. 1994. 24 – 31. R. Econ.E.. Econ. M. D.B. The Weight of Nations: Material the current cycle in one continent clearly does not Outflows from Industrial Economies. M. Socolow. Industrial Ecology will be needed if we are to form sound policies and Global Change. Paper presented at Workshop on Material standpoint is that the system as a whole neither Flows. R. Graedel. Metals loading of scarcity. UK. F. the STAF project and complementary efforts of Econ. A central result from the policy Craig. T. R..H. Ind. 287 – 296. copper significantly. Ayres. (This issue). P. (This issue). J. New Ha6en.. Anderberg.). Fuse. Ecol. of potential interest to the science and policy Kinzig. 2000.. A. bridge. M. J. 81 – 94. Fuge. J..B. E. Andrews. Metal Statistics (Decadal Series).. Guinée. Rechberger. H. it is obvious from the four papers that berger. Bertram.. T. resulting in some cases from the propri..).. 2000) University Press. et al. Spiro. Introduction 7 copper cycle from the viewpoint of the concentra.A. may alleviate some of these difficulties in the Thomas. Fuse. H. Part I.E. The life-cycle of chlorine. trolled materials is limited at present by data Stigliani. pp. 1910 – 2000. Cam- related to production. Ware. Graedel Center for Industrial Ecology. 297 – 318. In any case.P. F. the environment: cadmium in the Rhine Basin.H.. pp. Berkhout. Van der Voet.. 2002. Spatari. S. Dordrecht. S.. an understanding of Matthews.. V.E. H. K. 1994. Nonetheless. Bertram. Cambridge University Press. T. Jan..E. consumption. future... The proposal for (Eds. S. and recycling. This research was funded by the US National Science Foundation under grant BES-9818788. Cambridge. Udo de Haes.. E-mail: thomas. 1 (1).. UK. Econ. the life cycle. 2000. Andrews..)... H. Today 47 (11). England. others move forward.. The contemporary Eu- Those aspects of the cycle will become apparent as ropean copper cycle: statistical entropy analysis. Spatari. H.U. References School of Forestry and En6ironmental Studies. (This issue). Thomas. Rechberger. E.H. Washington. 2002. 26. R. T. copper cycle at other spatial or temporal scales..