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4 min reading time
Story 153 – 1820 – Sustainability

Recycling from the very first hour

Wieland is a pioneer in the recycling of copper

Wieland has always strived to use the valuable raw material copper and copper alloys as sustainably as possible. This is achieved through complex recycling measures which ensure that today some 85 per cent of all Wieland products are made from return material.

Recycling has been a matter of course in many areas for several decades now: packaging, paper, clothing and many other everyday products are no longer simply thrown away, but instead are being reprocessed and returned to the material cycle. This conserves resources and thus also makes an important contribution to environmental protection.

Less well known is that Wieland was already recycling raw materials when the word did not even exist in general language use. The reason is simple: copper is an expensive metal and in demand worldwide. And it can be melted down and processed into new products as often as required without any loss of quality. It is not unusual for the pure material value to exceed the processing costs of a product many times over. For this reason, since the company was founded in 1820, the principle has been to return scrap such as stamping waste or turning chips, but also production-related returns, to the manufacturing process in a closed loop. The thought of metal loss has therefore always been a "no-go" at Wieland – even if it was originally influenced predominantly by economic considerations.

Recycling alloys is a particular challenge. This requires a precise knowledge of the consistency or purity of a mixture. Only in this way can alloys be recycled back into pure metals or precisely defined new alloys. For this reason, Wieland developed – with intensive research work - a wide range of methods at an early stage to be able to precisely analyse the components of external return materials, to introduce internal sorting and to have at the ready various recipes for the individual alloys available in the metal warehouse. The more reliably the composition of an alloy can be determined, the higher is its material value.

On this basis, an extensive recycling industry for copper and copper alloys has now developed. With great success: in Europe, these materials are now almost 100 per cent recycled – in some cases with special processing steps such as refining or electrolysis.

Today, some Wieland products are also made of 100 per cent recycled material; on average, a rate of around 85 per cent is the benchmark. This is an important contribution to sustainability of which Wieland can rightly be proud. Especially as the use of recycled metals in the production of semi-finished products reduces CO2 emissions by up to 90 per cent.

Stamping waste

Stamping waste cannot be avoided. This makes it all the more important to recycle the valuable material and thus return it to the material cycle.

starting material for new primary products

Not scrap, but valuable starting material for new primary products. The decisive factor here is precise analysis and separation by alloy.