How to obtain the highest value for your scrap metals

Whether you are an electrician, plumber, construction manager, or director of manufacturing, it is important to know the best and most efficient way to maximize your scrap value.

Most types of scrap, if properly segregated and cleaned – will bring a higher value than commingled scrap. Why? All material needs to be properly sorted to be efficiently and cost effectively recycled. If your material is not properly sorted then the recycling facility you are selling to must complete the task. This takes time – and time and labor is money. The recycling facility must recover this cost, and therefore will reduce their buying price.

Below we share some guidance on what actions you can take to increase the value of your scrap materials:


  • Should your steel scrap have nonmetal attachments – these should be removed.
  • Should you generate copper plumbing scrap then it would be best to remove and segregate brass fittings, and steel or zinc handles, knobs, or attachments.
  • Should you have enough quantity the copper scrap could be sorted further – removing and segregating material which has paint and solder. The clean copper scrap is considered #1 copper – and will bring the highest return.


  • Insulated wire can be also be sorted – as the heavy strippable wire has a higher copper content – and will bring a better return. Heavy wire such as this can also be stripped of its insulation – creating #1 copper.

ALUMINUM:  (Increasing the value of aluminum scrap requires a similar process.)

  • Remove steel such as screws and bolts as well as nonmetal attachments from aluminum.
  • Segregate clean, heavy aluminum from painted lighter aluminum such as siding. Heavy aluminum plate and structural components will bring a higher price.
  • Cast aluminum such as rims should be kept separate from dirty aluminum such as cylinder heads, transmissions, and other engine parts.
  • Also it is important that any type of liquids or fluids be properly drained and disposed of.

Manufacturing facilities – which may purchase aluminum, copper, brass or other metals by a particular grade or alloy – can also benefit by keeping scrap segregated – just as you would the raw material. Once commingled this type of material can be very difficult if not impossible to segregate – as material can be sometimes visually indistinguishable.

When in doubt it is best to consult an expert – contact the recycling facility near you to get answers to your questions. Recycling facilities live, eat and breathe these types of materials – day in and day out. Advice is always offered free of charge to customers, as it can save both time and labor when processing your scrap – and the end result will be more money in your pocket.

Contact us at 800.783.6766 if you have any questions or to talk about your scrap recycling job.