When you think of selling metal, pawning gold and silver may come to mind, but have you considered recycling copper? While not as glamorous as its gold and silver cousins, copper is a valuable metal in the recycling industry. Copper is in high demand, as it's used in electronics and construction. However, mining copper is an expensive and lengthy process. Recycling copper is far more efficient. In fact, copper.org states that about half of the copper used annually in the United States is recycled, rather than mined. As such, recycling plants will pay you for any scrap copper you bring. You'll need to SCRAP effectively to make the most profit.
S - Search for sources of copper
Copper is easiest to find in wires. Wires are in anything that uses electricity; TVs, computer monitors, desktop towers, stoves, dryers, and charging cords are all fair game. However, scrap yards won't take the electronics whole. You'll need to take apart the metal casing, then remove the wire with scissors or cutters.
You can also find copper in plumbing pipes and copper roofing. These solid pieces are harder to find and trickier to disassemble, but yield plenty of metal.
C - Categorize your copper
According to Thanet Metal Recycling, scrap yards judge copper quality by five different grades. Different grades have different values. Bare bright copper is the most valuable, followed by #1 copper, #2 copper, #1 insulated wire, and #2 insulated wire, respectively. You'll have to sort your copper before going to the scrapyard, or they may price it all as the lowest grade.
- Bare bright copper is pure, clean, uncoated copper thicker than 1/16th of an inch. Pipes are excluded from this grade.
- #1 copper is pure, uncoated copper thicker than 1/16th of an inch with traces of oxidation.
- #2 copper is nearly pure, uncoated copper that appears dirty
- #1 insulated wire is wire with a plastic coating thicker than 1/16th of an inch
- #2 insulated wire is wire with a plastic coating thinner than 1/16th of an inch
R- Refine your copper for the best value
If you're willing to put in some work, you can change the grade of your copper and get paid more. For instance, stripping #1 insulated wire will yield #1 copper, which is more valuable. A good cleaning of #2 copper may remove enough tarnishing to boost it to #1 copper. In short, always strip your wires, clean your copper, and remove other metals if possible.
A - Appraise your copper at different yards
Not all scrap yards will pay the same price for copper. Search online for different scrap yards in your area and compare their prices. Prices will fluctuate with time, so you may also want to check the current national average on a site such as iscrapapp.com, and see whether prices are rising or falling.
P - Preserve other metals you find
While you want to remove other metals from your copper, don't throw them out. Scrap yards will also pay for aluminum, iron, and steel.
For further tips, reach out to a local copper buyer.