Sustainable Development

As defined in the United Nations 1987 Bruntland report, sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This recognises that economic growth must incorporate social and environmental objectives.

Copper contributes to sustainable development in three key ways

Economic Growth

Structural (buildings and infrastructure) and functional (electrical and thermal conductors) products made from copper and its alloys are at the heart of the EU economy. European companies – with world class technologies in sectors such as automotive, machinery building, power infrastructure, construction, metal extraction, engineering and many more – generate billions of Euros through both regional and export markets. Read more.


While the copper industry itself is relatively small in terms of employment (+/- 50,000 people across Europe), it employs many skills in a variety of job types. Far more importantly, the downstream copper value chain – which covers everything from nano-particles to gigantic civil constructions to space exploration – supports, amongst others, researchers, scientists, teachers, engineers, medics, technologists, metal workers, recyclers and construction labourers. These people work in world class academic institutions, government departments, global companies and SMEs. Read more.


The European copper industry spends millions of Euros every year on improving its own environmental footprint, as well as enabling downstream companies to improve the environmental footprint of their products. Copper products form part of environmental infrastructure projects, sensors, instrumentation and measurement projects, recycling, cleaning and waste treatment projects. Innovation is supporting resource efficiency, “getting more from less”. Examples include light-weighting, downsizing, yield improvement and the higher productivity of systems and appliances, whether a medical device, mobile phone, air-conditioner, factory, supermarket, railway system or construction vehicle. Read more.

The Copper Alliance believes that sustainable development offers a balanced economic model that is respectful of people and the planet.

Copper Development Association strives to represent an industry and its products that are valued and appreciated for their contributions towards creating a more sustainable society. Read more on the global website.

Copper has a superior electrical and thermal conductivity, is highly durable, and can be 100% recycled without any loss in performance. There are ten good reasons why copper should be a material of choice when it comes to building a more sustainable energy system. Read about them in the Applications section, including how they apply in specific applications.