In my organisation (European Copper Institute), there is increasing attention to recycling. For power and distribution transformers (P&TD), recycling has limited impact on environmental performance since electricity losses over the lifetime of the transformer represent over 99% of impact. But recycling is important from an availability perspective of the material resources that the transformer uses.
So what is the recycling practice for transformers? I would expect it to be almost 100% for P&TD, and the main question is not whether transformers are recycled, but how they are recycled, and who earns most from it.
A large portion of transformer cost is materials, and hence, transformers have significant scrap value. But the scrap value of the transformer to the owner must be much lower than the value of the secondary materials delivered to copper or steel plants. How much of the scrap value accrues to the owner, and how much is used to cover teh costs of collection and processing?
I understand that materials recovered from transformers are mainly copper, silicon steel and steel. Are there other materials recovered in significant volumes?
Finally, I guess that transformers are collected and recycled by semi-specialised metal recyclers, who would also typically process scrap motors, energy cable, etc. Do you have examples of such companies?
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