Copper recycling is good for the environment as it reduces the need to mine fresh copper. It can also be good for your bank account, as many recyclers pay for copper scrap.

1. Clean Copper Is Worth More

Clean copper is copper that doesn't have any type of impurities in it or on it. Copper alloys, for example, are inherently impure and often more difficult to sell. Rubber wire insulation, soldering or welding on metals, and even adhesives and tars can also reduce the value of the copper. When possible, it makes financial sense to spend time cleaning the copper so you can sell it at the highest price.

2. Cutting Tubing Can Increase Value

Copper pipes and tubing may not be pristine if they have solder spots, adhesives, or other impurities. Frequently, though, the impure spots are limited to certain areas, such as where two pipes were joined, and the rest of the pipe is pristine and of a higher value. Unfortunately, scrap yards will pay at the lower value for impure copper for the entire pipe length, unless you take the time to cut off the impure areas. Doing so will allow you to sell the pure scrap for the higher grade pricing and the smaller pieces with impurities will be the only ones sold at the lower rate.

3. Not All Wires Are Worth the Effort

Most wiring is insulated with a rubber covering. Inside isn't just one wire, but many wires. The thicker the coated wire, the more strands of wiring that will be found inside. Often, not all of the wires inside the insulation coating are copper. Save yourself wasted time by test stripping a foot or so of insulated wire, to begin with. You can then separate out the strands and determine if the amount of copper contained is worth the time of stripping. Weigh the amount of copper scavenged from one foot of a bundled wire. You can multiply this weight by the entire bundle length to determine how much copper you can expect to recover.

4. Roofing Copper Can Be Low Value

Copper is commonly used on roofs for gutters, shingling, or flashing. It's typically chosen both for its durability and looks, but eventually, some of the copper may need to be replaced. Unfortunately, roofing copper is typically low value because at least one side is coated with adhesives and roofing tar, which is difficult to remove in the recycling process. Pristine roofing copper with no adhesive residue is worth recycling, though.

Contact a copper scrap recycling service to learn more.