What Is Copper Scrap Worth?

Copper is used in nearly every industry that requires metal materials. Whether you’re an individual with excess copper at home or a contractor with a surplus of copper at your construction site after completing a job, your high-demand copper will always be a winner at scrap yards. After all, its infinitely recyclable life means it can be reused in construction, computers, motors, industrial machinery and more. But copper is one of the few metals with a constantly fluctuating price, so how do you know what your copper scrap metal is worth?

Here at Gardner Metal Recycling, we’ve been helping Central Texans get the best deals on their scrap metal recycling for the past fifty years. That’s why we’ve compiled this rundown on everything you need to know about the value of copper and how you can make the most when you sell yours.

What Factors Affect Copper Recycling Prices?

Selling copper is often more lucrative than selling other kinds of scrap metal—but getting copper wire or copper cable scrap prices can be tricky, because the price per pound can vary greatly depending on different factors. The grade of your copper is one of the best ways to understand its worth, and these classifications can tell you what copper recycling price tiers to expect:

  • #2 copper: This grade of copper is the third most valuable copper type, and can be identified by its fairly dirty appearance. It should be composed of unalloyed wire, pipe or solid metal that maintains paint, solder or any other coating. To meet this grade, #2 copper must not have any insulation and should be thinner than 1/16 inch. Some recyclers and scrap yards may refer to this type as “light copper.”
  • #1 copper: This is the second most profitable copper type to trade in at a metal recycler. To meet the standards of #1 copper, it should be composed of bus bars, clippings, commutator segments and wire of at least 1/16 inch in diameter. It may have some trace amounts of oxidation or corrosion but should be generally clean, and always unalloyed and uncoated. Clean copper tubing can qualify for #1 copper if it’s free of fittings, insulation and coating. 
  • Bare bright copper: This grade is the most valuable copper type available. It refers to 99 percent pure copper, which must be at least 1/16 inch thick and uncoated. In order to classify as bare cable or wire, it must also be stripped of all insulation and fittings, as well as uncoated and unalloyed. Copper piping does not fall under the classification of bare bright copper. 

How to Increase Your Scrap Copper Recycling Prices

Of course, the price of copper per pound varies greatly depending on the quality of the metal, as well as the grade and type of copper. Still, recycling copper is always a valuable effort—both for the health of our environment and for your wallet. So how can you get the most valuable pay your copper scraps?

Each load of copper that’s brought into a recycling yard is graded by the lowest-grade piece of metal in your pile. This means that if you show up with a large load of bare bright copper that also contains a few pieces of low-grade copper, you’ll only be paid for a load of low-grade copper. That’s why presorting your materials can ensure that you get the best value for your trade-in.

Copper scrap value also varies depending on where you sell it. Here at Gardner Metals, we’ve been giving Central Texans the best copper and metal scrap prices on the market for the past 50 years. We’ll help get your materials sorted, and we’ll pay you on the spot for everything we buy. Have questions about copper wire price and which metals we accept? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help you get the best value for your copper scrap metal.