Scrap Metal Prices

If you really think about it, mankind has always had a penchant for recycling. In the medieval times, people took stones from wrecked castles and churches to build their own homes. Blackmiths melted abandoned swords and armor to create new ones. Wood pieces from damaged ships are reused, and the same goes for their metallic counterparts.

It’s much the same thing today with scrap metal. When recycling is done properly, you essentially get the same metal as the virgin version you get from mines. A scrap yard can then sell their scrap by sorting out the metals first, and then selling the various distinct metals at current prices. They sell the metals by weight, and it’s not dependent on what it was used for before.

Below are the latest scrap metal prices per lb.

TypePrice Per Lb.

Copper & Brass

#1 Bare Bright Wire$2.00
#1 Copper Tubing/Flashing$1.62
#2 Copper Tubing/Bus Bar$1.51
#3 Roofing Copper$1.41
Brass (Plumbing, Pipe)$1.05
Bronze$1.23
Brass Shells$0.81
Brass Water Meter$0.50-0.85
Clean Brass Radiators$1.00
Aluminum/Copper Coil (Clean)$0.78
Aluminum/Copper Coil (Dirty)$0.68
Copper Yokes$0.25
Copper Transformers$0.05-0.13
Electric Motors$0.10-0.12
Alternators/Starters (Separated)$0.15
Sealed Units/Compressors$0.05

Insulated Copper Wire

Insulated Copper Wire (Cat 5/6)$0.51
THHN Cable$0.93
500-750 MCM (Bare Bright Inside)$1.25
Hollow Heliax Wire$0.69
Romex Wire$0.74
Insulated Cable$1.02
Insulated Steel BX$0.14
Christmas Lights$0.13

Aluminum

Aluminum Siding$0.33
Sheet Aluminum (Windows/Pans)$0.28
Aluminum Rims$0.45
Aluminum Windows (Broken)$0.30
Cast Aluminum$0.33
Clean Aluminum Wire$0.45
AL Thermo-Pane/Break (Not Glass)$0.28
AL Litho Plates$0.45
AL Machine Cuts$0.35
Aluminum Grills$0.33
Aluminum Ladders$0.28
Aluminum Transformers$0.03
AL Turnings$0.14

Miscellaneous Scrap

Car Batteries$0.17-0.21
Lead$0.40
304 Stainless Steel (Non-Magnetic)$0.24
316 Stainless Steel (Non-Magnetic)$0.36
Forklift Batteries$0.14-0.18
Lithium Ion Batteries$0.15-0.50
Lead Wheel Weights$0.15
Scrap Generators$0.05-0.17

Steel & Iron

Steel$0.01
Light Iron$0.01
Cast Iron$0.02-0.035
Whole Cars$0.02-0.03
Motorcycles$0.03-0.045

Computer Scrap

Clean Green Motherboards$1.20
Non-Green Motherboards$0.65
Memory Chips$4.00-6.50
CPU Processor Chips$3.50-25.00
Whole Computer Towers with HD$0.15
Laptops$0.50
Power Supplies with Wires$0.14
Hard Drives with Board$0.50
Hard Drive PC Board$1.90
Cell Phones (No Battery)$0.75
Telecom Equipment$0.14-0.27
Servers$0.14-0.27
Low Grade Non PC Boards$0.08
Insulated Wire$0.28-0.51
AL Heat Sinks$0.28

Rare Earth Metals

Carbide Inserts/Shapes$3.00-4.00
Monel$1.50-2.50
FSX 414$2.50
Titanium$0.20
Nickel$1.50-2.00
Inconel$1.00-2.50
High Speed Steel$0.25
Hastelloy Shavings$0.75-1.25
Hastelloy Solids$1.25-1.50
Tin Solder$0.50-3.00
Babbit$0.50-5.50
Alnico Magnets$0.25

Metal is Destined for the Scrap Heap

Scrap metal prices
Scrap metal pile

Civilization has always had a scrap trade, and this particular industry can thrive through good times or bad. It’s a business that is founded on the principle that once a piece of metal exists, it will always exist. Even if iron rusts, the rust is still metal. Some scrap dealers may collect the rust from sandblasted trains, and they can sell it to steel mills which will use it in the furnace charge.

Metal items always have a lifespan in terms of usefulness. In the US, an average leaf blower can last for 3 years, while a lawnmower will last for 7 years. A car will last about a dozen years or so. Scrap yards may have to wait 25 years for the steel in river barges to come to them, and 50 years for steel-truss bridges.

It leads to a rather unsentimental outlook. It’s all about current usefulness and never about the memories. When the World Trade Center fell, it produced more than 100,000 tons of reusable high grade metals. In the South, the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina was a bonus for scrap dealers in the area. The destruction of the Iraqi military and infrastructure resulted in a great amount of scrap, and most of the metal is still there because the country imposed a scrap-export ban.  Unfortunately, they’ll have to rebuild the steel mills first, as looters tore them up to sell the materials for—what else—scrap metal.

Price History

In general, it’s always about supply and demand. However, scrapyards do have the additional responsibility of separating the metals before they’re recycled. Still, the price can differ widely depending on the location of the scrap yard and the prevailing prices of various metals. Sometimes the price is also negotiated between the seller and the scrap yard.

Some websites publish current scrap metal prices. One website offers prices for scrap copper, steel, aluminum and other metals. In some cases, the prices depend on the item the metal comes from. For aluminum, the price is different if it comes from extrusions, cans, siding, and wheels. Aluminum cans may only cost $0.33 a pound, while aluminum wheels may fetch up to $0.50 a pound.

Steel is the most recycled material in the world, and more steel is recycled than all the other materials combined. The 2012 estimate is that up to 88% of all steel is recycled. Automobiles have a 92.5% recycling rate. It’s 90% for appliances, and 72% for steel packaging.

For every 3 tons of new steel produced today, 2 tons are from old steel. This can be scrap resulting from the manufacturing process. Or it can be from steel products that are no longer used.

Environmental and Energy Benefits

When scrap metal is used instead of producing it from ores, you can get savings in a variety of ways. Recycling, when compared to producing new metal from mines, offers:

  • 97% reduction in mining wastes
  • 90% savings in the amount of raw materials used
  • 86% reduction in the air pollution produced
  • 76% reduction in the water pollution
  • 75% reduction in energy consumption
  • 40% savings in the amount of water used up

All these are significant savings. When recycling steel, you save 1,115 kg of iron ore, 625 kg of coal, and 53 kg of limestone from the current stockpiles. When you recycle a ton of aluminum, you save up to 5 tons of bauxite.

You also get energy savings for various metals when you recycle. Your energy savings are 95% for aluminum, 85% for copper, 65% for lead, and 60% for zinc.

Tips for Selling Scrap Metals

There are several ways you can make sure you get the best pricing for your scrap metal. One is to check around so you can get quotes from several buyers.

You also need to separate the ferrous metals which contain iron from the non-ferrous metals. The non-ferrous metals may contain precious metals like gold, silver, and metals in the platinum group. Others may be exotic metals, although care must be taken for materials that may be radioactive.

Whether you’re an ordinary consumer or a scrap yard owner, you have to do your part in recycling metal. It’s not just for the benefit of the environment and all mankind. It also puts extra dollars in your pocket!

Comments (1)
  1. Luke Smith says:

    Thanks so much for pointing out that recycling scrap metals can amount to up to a 97% reduction in mining wastes, and over a 70% reduction in water and air pollution and energy consumption. I would imagine that everyone buying metal can do their part to support this type of eco-friendly production by purchasing building materials and metals from suppliers who use recycled metals. I bet this would be especially applicable to aluminium and copper suppliers, as these are two very common metals.

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The displayed metal prices are estimates only. They are aggregated using multiple sources. Actual prices may vary based on region, supplier, or various other factors.