How to Obtain the Best Return for Non-Ferrous Scrap: Copper

There are many sources for locating scrap copper. If you are an electrician or plumber, you handle this material every day. But do you know how to obtain the best value for your unused or scrap copper? Following these basic guidelines will ensure you will obtain the best value for your scrap copper. 

Preparing Scrap Copper for Recycling

A tangled bunch of electrical wires ready to be processed. Scrap copper.Electricians work with wire – the majority of which is copper based. The most obvious way to create the best value from this material is to remove the insulation, significantly increasing its scrap value.  When insulation is removed, it is then considered “bare/bright copper” (if free of coatings). This would bring the highest return as it would be totally contamination free.

Under many circumstances, it may be prohibitive or too time consuming to manually strip wire. That is when you need to rely on a reputable recycling company to assist you. They have the equipment on hand to quickly and efficiently process your wire and can, therefore, still pay you a strong price. This grade is called “strippable” wire.

Grades of Scrap Copper

There are also other lower valued wire categories, with each having different prices based on the copper content:

  • #1 copper includes copper tubing free of fittings, paint, and solder
  • #1 insulated
  • Romex
  • #2 copper has paint and solder attached
  • “mixed brass” is a lower-priced category and may be considered depending on the percentage of copper. This includes tubing with attachments such as brass fittings. 
  • “junk wire” is low-grade wire that has very low copper content

Work with Your Scrap Dealer

Preparing your scrap copper and sorting it into grades makes it more likely the scrap dealer can pay you more, as it requires less time and labor to process. It’s a win for both you and the scrap dealer. Call us with any questions. As a successful retailer once said, “An educated consumer is our best customer.”