Copper theft has always been a problem. But these days, the problem is getting worse. With the price of copper at historic highs, the demand and scarcity of copper continue to grow. Copper wiring is a prime target for thieves because of its increasing value as scrap. CCA disincentivizes theft because of its aluminum content. CCA cannot be recycled using the same scrap channels as single-metal copper, for it will contaminate them and cause maintenance and production problems for its industrial consumers.
The Cu-Clad Solution
The impact of metallurgical bonding on theft
CCA is a bimetal that unites two dissimilar metals through metallurgical bonding. The bond is so strong between the metals that CCA must be scrapped as a unique product. CCA is recycled everyday into many downstream metallurgical products called alloys. The scrap dealers that deal in CCA are equipped to manage it. They have developed internal sorting processes and external markets for CCA scrap. Most traditional scrap dealers, on the other hand, cannot effectively manage CCA, nor have they developed markets for it. Many simply refuse to buy it.
The cascading cost of copper theft
When copper wiring is stolen from new construction, the replacement cost of the wire is only the tip of the iceberg. There are other factors to consider: production delays and lost time for the builder, repairs to circuit components and sheet rock, replacement of appliances and luminaires caused by the illicit extraction of wires, stretched management resources, and the cost of private security.
Many construction sites experience copper theft
Whether via outright theft of complete circuits by skilled thieves, or pilferage via liberal end-cutting by third-party installers, most job sites experience some degree of copper theft. It is estimated that as high as 8% of the copper wiring in new construction is lost to copper theft.
The electric vehicle (EV) impact on copper theft
Copper remains as the primary conductor material for EV motors. This has caused both high demand and a growing scarcity of copper. If this trend continues, it is presumed that the valuable resource of copper will cease to be viable for use as building wire. Copper will be redirected towards the automotive industry where its impact and value on sustainability initiatives are much greater. This increased demand will continue to put upward pressure on the price of copper, making copper scrap even more desirable to thieves.