What Scrap Metal is Worth Recycling?

Scrap metal recycling is a massive industry, generating estimated revenue of more than $26 billion in the U.S. during 2020 alone. Some of that cash can be yours when you recycle the scrap metal that your business generates. 

Certain types of scrap are more valuable than others, but I believe that recycling scrap metal is always worth the effort. This is a simple way to walk the walk around sustainability, since recycling old metal reduces the need to mine for new materials. Plus, recycling scrap metal can net you more easy money than you might realize. 

Separating Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Scrap Metal

Scrap metalWhether or not your scrap metal contains iron will affect how much you’re paid for it. Metal that’s made with iron is called ferrous metal, and it’s less valuable than non-ferrous types. (Some smaller scrap metal recyclers wont even accept ferrous metal, though Miller Recycling will.) Examples of ferrous metals include steel, wrought iron and cast iron.

Because of its iron content, ferrous metal is attracted to magnets. Even a basic refrigerator magnet can indicate whether the metal in question is ferrous. This makes it really easy to separate your scrap metal into categories. Depending on where you sell your scrap, the recycler may not require you to separate ferrous from non-ferrous metal, but we recommend that you do so anyway.

There are a few reasons for this. For one, separating your scrap certainly makes things easier for your recycler if you have a lot of mixed metal. Sorting your scrap may also get you more money for it. When a recycler receives a container of mixed scrap, they’ll generally pay a rate based on the cheapest metal in the container. Keep your ferrous metal separate from your non-ferrous metal to make sure you get top dollar for the latter type.

Recycling Scrap Metal

Scrap metal prices fluctuate according to supply and demand and fuel costs. Sometimes prices change from one day to the next or even multiple times over one day. That means it’s hard to estimate exactly how much you’ll get for your scrap until the day that you recycle it. Three types of scrap metal generally yield the highest prices from recyclers.

  •   Copper: This metal is always worth recycling, bringing in prices of more than $2/pound. Copper is so valuable to scrappers because it’s infinitely recyclable, and recycling existing copper is far more cost-effective than mining new copper. This metal is also highly versatile, so there’s a lot of demand for copper from the construction and technology industries, among others. Copper is reddish gold when new but may be darker brown if it’s older, or even greenish if it has oxidized.
  •   Brass: Commonly used in pipes, tools, door handles and bathroom fixtures, among many other uses, brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between brass and copper, but brass is often more yellow while copper is more red. A pound of brass is worth less than a pound of copper. But brass is dense, so if you have a lot of it in your scrap pile, it may be your most lucrative metal.
  •   Aluminum: If you’ve ever returned aluminum cans for cash, you know there’s money to be made in recycling this kind of metal. Outdoor furniture, ladders, exterior doors, appliances, gutters and siding are just some of the things commonly made from aluminum. It’s softer than other metals and won’t stick to a magnet, which is helpful when you’re trying to separate silver aluminum from silver steel.

Copper, brass and aluminum are just three types of scrap metal worth recycling. Commercial scrappers generally accept many other types too, including lead, tin, nickel, steel, cast iron and light iron. Recycling automotive parts like converters or car bodies can be particularly lucrative. I recommend asking your recycler for specific guidance about any less-common types of scrap you may have.

If your business generates scrap metal of any kind, we know that it might be a source of stress. On top of everything else that has to get done, you also have to manage the handling of your scrap. Call Miller Recycling for help. We can help you figure out what kind of scrap you have, and/or make a site visit to establish a system for sorting and containing all your metal. We’ll pick up your scrap metal for you, or accept pickup at our Mansfield facility if you prefer to handle transportation. Most importantly, we pay competitive rates for all kinds of recyclable metal.

It’s always worth recycling your scrap when you work with Miller Recycling. We’ll do everything we can to make the process easy and lucrative for you. If you have questions about scrap metal recycling, we’re always happy to help. Contact us today!