Article
Copper wire can seem like a commodity – after all, it’s fabricated from one of the world’s most heavily traded commodities and is sold in bulk quantities all over the globe. And, like a lot of commodities, it can be difficult to know how the copper products you’re buying is actually produced.

On the Mark: New Program Helps Assure Copper Products’ Sustainability

Chuck Ross
Copper wire can seem like a commodity – after all, it’s fabricated from one of the world’s most heavily traded commodities and is sold in bulk quantities all over the globe. And, like a lot of commodities, it can be difficult to know how the copper products you’re buying is actually produced. Now, a growing number of producers, along with the manufacturers who fabricate their own products from raw material, are working to support and identify copper that’s responsibly sourced. Called the Copper Mark, the program comes with standards regarding production, due diligence and chain of custody issues. Buyers of those products can have greater confidence in their social and environmental sustainability.

The Copper Mark was launched in 2019 by the International Copper Association, a global trade group of producers, traders and fabricators. Copper mines and refiners that can verify their performance to the program’s requirements for labor practices, health and safety, environmental impact, community engagement and transparency can apply for certification and use the Copper Mark logo on their products. Manufacturers working with those products have their own criteria to meet – in addition to sourcing only Copper Mark raw materials – for responsible production.

The program has taken off quickly. In March, the group leading the effort announced Copper Mark-assured production sites accounted for more than 25% of globally mined copper. Manufacturers also are getting involved. For example, Southwire is one of the first building wire producers to participate in the program. The company signed letters committing itself to begin Copper Mark’s assurance process at four manufacturing sites in 2023.

Moving forward, Copper Mark recently kicked off plans to introduce similar assurance programs for producers of molybdenum, nickel and zinc. Six producers have signed on to those plans. Molybdenum and nickel, especially, are important in battery manufacturing.

Photo courtesy of Southwire
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