What to Bring to Your Nearest Copper Recycling Center

Feb 23, 2021 | Recycling

A tangle of wires for copper wire recycling

One of the largest industries in the world is scrap metal recycling. Recycling copper wire or any other copper scrap is part of the restore, renew, and recycle culture that is a fast-growing practice in most communities. Like with every kind of recycling, there is a procedure you need to follow when planning to recycle copper scrap.

You cannot just pack it all up in a bundle and drop it off at your nearest copper recycling center. You will need to know the different available scrap metals before you embark on copper recycling. This knowledge is essential as it will help you understand how to separate your metals. Do some research and learn how to differentiate metals if you do not have that knowledge.

Recycling ensures that products that would otherwise be thrown away and left to go to waste are repurposed. It is essential to recycle to avoid a lot of waste being dumped in landfills, prevent pollution, and reduce the demand for raw materials. Recycling is environmentally friendly, and it increases economic security. Therefore, if you have any copper scrap, find the nearest copper recycling center and have them recycle your copper waste. A considerable percentage of the copper being used today has been repurposed and recycled. This is good for the environment and the economy.

There are different kinds of copper, and they are categorized as either copper cable or copper metal. Copper recycling does not alter the quality of the metal. Listed below are some of the different kinds of copper scrap.

  • Bare bright copper
  • No. 1 copper
  • No. 2 copper
  • Sheet copper
  • Insulated copper No. 1
  • Insulated copper No. 2
  • Miscellaneous computer wire
  • Low-grade wire
  • Alternator
  • Starters
  • Sealed units
  • Ballasts
  • Transformers

Different Scrap Copper Types

If you plan on copper recycling, you need to find the nearest copper recycling center and inquire about what copper scrap they accept — not all facilities accept all types. When you take in your copper scrap, how much you are paid is dependent on the copper’s grade. Different grades have different pricing points. So, to get an accurate quote, ensure that you have grouped your copper into the different types.

You should note that different copper recycling centers price the scrap differently. Therefore, the prices may vary. If you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your old copper, you could check all the nearest copper recycling centers and compare the prices. To get a better idea of what you might bring to those facilities, listed below are some scrap copper types.

Bare Bright Copper

Bare bright copper is the most valuable type of scrap copper. The bare bright copper wire is solid and clean. If the copper wire ever had rubber, plastic, or insulation attached to it, they have been long since removed. There are no signs of oils or heavy oxidation on the wire. It would be best if you separated it from any other copper you may have. You will make more money at a copper recycling center when you take the bare bright copper wire for recycling.

No. 1 Copper

No. 1 copper is similar to the bare bright copper wire. It is clean of any impurities such as plastic, steel, tin, solder, or brass fittings. Copper tubing that’s usually used for electrical systems, cooling systems in radiators, and plumbing fixtures is often this type of copper. No. 1 copper tubing should be kept separate from other copper scraps that have different materials attached.

If you have roofing copper that is clean of paint or tar and has not been applied, it can also be considered No. 1 copper. 

No. 2 Copper

Once you have sorted out your No. 1 copper, you need to look at what is left — pieces that have heavy oxidation, brass fittings, solder, or paint attached. This is what you separate as No. 2 copper. The price of your No. 2 copper is below that of No. 1 copper.

Copper pipes that may have been used with chemicals or contain oil residue may also be categorized as No. 2 copper. However, they are usually separately sorted and often take longer to process due to the high impurities attached to them.

Some pieces of copper that would otherwise be considered No. 2, like a pipe with a joint soldered on, can be cut into pieces so that one piece is pure No. 1 copper and the other piece containing the impurity is No. 2 copper. Plumbers and contractors can make a lot of money out of leftover copper piping from plumbing fixtures, provided they know how to cut the solder and brass fittings off the copper tubing end. 

Insulated Copper Wire and Cable

There are various types of insulated copper wire and cable. They can be found in multiple places, including computer appliances, cars, and homes. Oftentimes, you can recycle insulated wire without stripping it first, since recycling centers have special machines for this purpose. If instead you choose to strip the wire yourself to get a better price, make sure to be careful and do it as safely as possible. There is a No. 1 insulated wire and a No. 2 insulated wire.

No. 1 insulated wire often covers uncoated, unalloyed, untinned, and clean copper wires. The insulation usually does not need to be stripped when giving them up for copper wire recycling, but you should always check with your local copper recycling center for more specific requirements regarding gauge thickness and insulation type.

No. 2 insulated wire is made up of unalloyed copper wires smaller than 16 gage with a copper recovery rate of 55 to 69 percent. Electronic wirings and extension cords often fall under this category. No. 2 insulated wires often have nickel and tin coating. 

Copper Wire Recycling

Copper wire recycling is an essential component of copper recycling. You may have a copper wire lying around in your house, and you think it has no use or value. On the contrary, it has monetary value to you. As mentioned earlier, copper ore is scarce, so more people must embrace copper reprocessing. You can monetize the copper wires in your home that you find useless through copper wire recycling. Find the nearest copper reprocessing center, and drop off your copper wires to take advantage of this opportunity.

In the same vein, don’t throw away any materials with copper in the trash. They will most likely end up at a landfill, which is not suitable for the environment. Instead of adding to all the waste in landfills, you can ensure that you make the environment better by embracing copper wiring recycling. If the potential earnings don’t sway you to gather up your old wires and drop them off at your nearest copper recycling center, hopefully the environmental argument will. Get in touch with the nearest copper reprocessing center and let them know you would like more information about recycling with them. They will be more than happy to help. Listed are tips on copper wire recycling.

  • Copper wires are often found inside insulated cables, and if you don’t feel comfortable stripping the insulation yourself, the nearest copper recycling center you contact will have special machinery to do it for you.
  • If you choose to strip the insulated cables, leave them out in the sun for a few hours. This ensures that the insulation softens as it is warmed, which makes your work easier.
  • Make sure you have the right tools to do the job if you decide to do it yourself. A knife might do the job, but it’s not safe. Wearing gloves is a good idea any time you’re working with wire.

You might be all in on copper wire recycling, but before you start a big wire stripping project, make sure the wire is worth all the trouble. Larger wires are better for copper wire recycling, since they have more copper in their center, and they are easier to strip. However, this does not mean that you should ignore smaller wires for copper wire recycling. Don’t waste your time striping the smaller wires, but do set them apart. They are still viable for copper wire recycling. Below are examples of the different copper wires.

  • 500+ MCM cabling is typically used in heavy-duty electricity transport. It is relatively easy to strip and is more likely to bring you money.
  • 250 to 500 MCM cabling is also fairly easy to strip since it is relatively thick. However, you need to ensure that it is not aluminum.
  • A spaghetti wire is the type you are most probably familiar with — they’re found in the majority of electrical components. This type of wire is smaller, making it more cumbersome to strip compared to larger wires, so you can give it up for copper wire recycling as it is.

Before you start stripping wires, contact the nearest copper reprocessing center and inquire about copper wire recycling. Ask about how they price the wires, how insulation might affect the price, and any other questions you might have about copper wire recycling. If they do not pay or you are not going to get much money out of it, you can still find comfort that you are making the environment a better place.

Importance of Copper Recycling

Copper is one of the most valued metals in the scrap metal industry. As mentioned earlier, copper can be found in everyday things such as your bathroom’s piping, car’s engine, and the electric wiring in your house. This wide variety of common uses means that copper is always in high demand, but obtaining raw copper ore through mining is an expensive and cumbersome process that’s not particularly environmentally friendly. Therefore, copper recycling is more cost-effective, energy-saving, and also environmentally conscious. Discussed below are two main benefits of copper recycling.

Economic Importance of Copper Recycling

As previously noted, copper reprocessing ensures an increase in economic security. Copper mining is quite costly, so it makes more financial sense to recycle it. The perks of recycling copper are that it degrades very little in value, and the extra cost that would have been used to mine it in its natural form is saved. When this process is effectively utilized, tons of copper can be repurposed. Most of the recycled copper scrap comes from consumer scraps such as plumbing tubes, radiators, and electrical cables.

On a smaller scale, recycling any old copper wiring you have laying around can put a little extra money in your pocket, and that’s always welcome.

Environmental Importance of Copper Recycling

Copper reprocessing has significant benefits to the environment, including the conservation of natural resources, saving energy that would have been used in processing raw copper, and solid waste diversion.

Processing raw copper requires a lot of energy compared to the energy used in copper reprocessing. Copper is a non-renewable resource in terms of conservation. Initiatives to recycle electronics cover the increasing electrical product production rate that requires copper.

As addressed above, it is essential to join the recycling movement to help better our planet. Copper is quite durable, and while the copper wires in your home may not be serving you in any way, they could be of great use if you dropped them off for copper wire recycling. They can be repurposed and reused for other essential functions.

You also need to ensure that you give the copper to an organization or dealer that is reliable. Do some digging and contact a local recycling team to inquire about whether they recycle copper. Make sure to ask plenty of questions about pricing, sorting, and anything else you’re curious about.

If you need more information about copper wire recycling, contact the nearest copper reprocessing center, and they will give you all the information you need. Do your research and choose to recycle every day to ensure you are doing your part in keeping the environment safe. And in copper’s case, you might even get a little bonus spending money on top of your environmental good deed.