Copper and sustainability

Copper and Health

The latest scientific developments show that copper has strong antimicrobial properties. This makes copper and copper alloy products suitable and ideal for use in the healthcare, heating, water supply, ventilation and a/c sectors and in food processing. Developing new technologies and applications generates important benefits for man, especially given copper’s antimicrobial properties. That is why HALCOR is actively encouraging research in this sector, and is participating in and supporting programmes being run by various research foundations.
HALCOR is a member of the Hellenic Copper Development Institute (HCDI) and collaborates with it to support scientific research into the applications of antimicrobial copper in Greece. Antimicrobial copper applications are already being used in Greece and Cyprus and up to date an innovative technique for applying antimicrobial copper to contact surfaces has been developed at the:
  • Attikon General University Hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU). 
  • The Peiraikos Hospital’s ICU in Piraeus
  • The Newborn ICU at the Agia Sofia Children’s Hospital
  • The Nicosia General Hospital ICU
  • The Apollonio Clinic ICU in Nicosia,
and at various schools in Attica such as the Arsakeion School in Psychiko and the Tositseion School in Ekali.

New research at the University of Southampton showed that antimicrobial copper can prevent the horizontal transmission of genes that contribute to higher numbers of antibiotic-resistant infections worldwide. The new study shows that the horizontal transmission of genes can happen in the hospital environment on surfaces we regularly touch such as door handles, wheelchairs, and stainless steel tables. Using copper prevents this from happening and rapidly neutralises the bacteria involved.


The new study presents how to limit the global spread of antibiotic-resistant infections.

More information is available on the website


Copper and Public Transport

Surfaces that can be touched on public transport are the most suitable means for developing microbial bacteria. The fact that people are in a confined space and packed together makes it much easier for bacteria to be spread to the millions of users of public transport worldwide, with major impacts on public health and safety. Research has shown that the use of Antimicrobial Copper on the surfaces people touch, such as handles and seats or other surfaces in public transport, significantly limits the spread and transmission of microbial bacteria or even viruses when public transport is used daily. The results of the research indicate that the use of Antimicrobial Copper for surfaces that the public can touch can neutralise 99.9% of harmful bacteria within two hours of exposure, thereby significantly reducing the likelihood of dangerous bacteria being transferred from those surfaces to the skin.

Recent studies report that almost 45% of all copper used in Europe comes from recycling. Recycling copper helps ensure that the constantly increasing demand for the metal (up 250% since 1960) can be met, while also reducing the environmental impacts of primary production and ensuring that copper remains available for future generations. A computer, for example, contains around 1.5 kg of copper, a normal house around 100 kg and a wind turbine 5 tons. Given that copper is completely recyclable and can be used over and over again, without losing any of its properties, one can argue that copper products are fully workable even when they reach the end of their useful life. That’s why recycling copper is particularly important.


Recycling saves energy and reduces CO2 emissions

Recycling copper is a highly effective way to bring a precious material back into the economy. Recycling needs up to 85% less energy than primary production. Worldwide, it saves 100 million MWh of electricity and 40 million tons of CO2 a year.


The Copper Flow Model

The Fraunhofer Institute has prepared a comprehensive study on copper reserves, flows and the amounts of the material being recycled. This complex, three-year study reached the best possible conclusions about how copper is being used and re-used in society. According to the International Copper Study Group (ICSG) and the report published recently, 44.8% of the copper used in Europe comes from recycling. That is not just a record figure, but a sign that the need for copper is increasingly being met by recycling the metal.
More information is available on the website
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