Scrap metal price is determined by the type of metal, location, quantity, and current market value. Copper sells for more than aluminum; scrap metal sells for more here in Dallas than in Mumbai, India; and a ton of scrap metal will sell for more than a few pounds.
As for current market value, you can follow the “spot price” of a given metal. Spot price is the price that companies pay for pure ingots of a metal. Kitco offers several helpful charts showing the current and historical market spot price for various popular metals here: http://www.kitcometals.com/charts/copper.html
Scrap metal categories determine price
Copper, lead, stainless steel, and most of the other metals we recycle fall into various categories that are used to determine value. Copper can be subcategorized into Bare Bright Copper, Copper #1, Copper #2, Copper #3, for example. Aluminum can be subcategorized as Cast Aluminum, Sheet Aluminum, Aluminum Cans, Extruded Aluminum, and the list goes on. Sometimes these subcategories are obvious, but sometimes there can be some controversy. One scrap metal recycler may classify your copper as Bare Bright Copper, while another classifies it as Copper #1. One may grade your metal as cast aluminum, while another grades it as “pot metal”—which is worth about 40% less!
For more information about scrap metal categories, take a look at our “Metals We Buy” page.
Geographical location determines price
As with almost all situations, competition leads to better prices for scrap metal. Encore Recyclers is located in Garland, Texas, in an industrial district where you can find several other scrap yards. We are committed to offering the best prices for your scrap metal, and our location contributes to our competitive prices. Rural areas that are far away from refineries or very far inland will generally have lower pricing than places with multiple scrap yards competing for customers.
Quantity determines price
Well, obviously! The more metal you have, the more it is worth. When you buy or sell in bulk, you get better pricing. Instead of selling a bucket of metal, try saving it up and selling a barrel. When you call a scrap yard to ask for pricing, they will be more receptive to negotiation if they know you are bringing in a half ton of scrap metal. Even better than a barrel, save up your shred metal and sell it by the trailer or Dumpster.
This type of price advantage is easiest to work out if you have a secure storage area for your scrap metal. Just be aware of city ordinances and beware of thieves.
Market determines price
Historically, scrap metal prices have dropped slightly in the summer and increased slightly in the winter. This is particularly true in locations that have very cold winters that impede scrappers from collecting scrap metal, but isn’t necessarily the case here in the Dallas and Garland area. Check the Kitco website for historical prices and make your decision about when to sell your scrap metal.