The sorption of Cu ions on pure fly ash-based geopolymer, fly ash-based geopolymer with Pb ions addition (modified) and zeolite NaX was studied. Taguchi's approach was applied to determine the impact of solute concentration (c), temperature (T), mixing time (t) and sorbent type (S) on the sorption of Cu ions onto different sorbents under batch conditions. Optimum experimental conditions and influence of controllable factors were determined using the larger-the-better approach. The influence in descending order is c > S > t > T, for both removal and loading. Also, the impact of sorbent type and solute concentration on the process equilibrium was examined. The equilibrium amount of Cu retained on the sorbents in equilibrium (qe) was as follows: pure geopolymer – 1.169 mmol g−1, modified geopolymer – 1.186 mmol g−1, and zeolite NaX – 1.695 mmol g−1. The experimental data were modelled using Jovanovic, Khan, Baudu, and Fritz-Schlünder isotherm models and their goodness of fit were compared. The Baudu isotherm model was the most useful in predicting the equilibrium of Cu sorption on pure and modified geopolymer. Goodness of fit of the selected isotherm models for the sorption of Cu ions on zeolite NaX was in the order: Fritz-Schlünder > Khan > Jovanovic > Baudu.