Scrap Metal Value: 4 Factors That Determine The Pricing

Did you know that the energy that you save by recycling a single aluminum can has the ability to provide you with power for 3 hours of television? Metal scrapping has become a large industry in the U.S. due to the fact that all metal retains some of its original value and can be reused in different applications once it has been processed and melted. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries estimates that approximately 54 million metric tons of ferrous metal and approximately 8.2 metric tons of nonferrous metal was recycled in 2010. The value of the metal is dependent on 4 different factors, which will be explored below. 

Scrap Metal Type

Different scrap metal yards may categorize the type of metal that you have, whether it be steel, copper or iron, differently, and this can influence the pricing that you get. All metals are broken down into separate, smaller categories when they are brought to the scrap metal yard, and different categories will lead to different pricing. For example, one scrap metal yard may consider the aluminum that you have to be cast aluminum whereas another scrap metal yard may take a look at the same product and categorize it as pot metal.

While the product that you have is the same, the category will alter its pricing. Due to this reason, you should highly consider shopping around at multiple scrap metal yards in order to determine what types of pricing can be expected based on how they categorize the scrap metal that you have. High quality metal that can be easily recycled without needing a lot of processing typically fetches the highest price. 

Current Spot Metal Prices

Spot metal prices will fluctuate based on the market. Before heading to the scrap yard, it may be best to look up the current spot metal prices so you know what to expect, and to avoid getting scammed. You want to consider the trends in the value of the spot metal prices in order to determine what the best times are to sell the metal. Copper typically fetches the highest price followed by brass.

The value of the metal is dependent on whether it is ferrous or non-ferrous. Ferrous metal will rust and corrode in the event that it has been exposed to water. Due to this reason, ferrous metal is not as valuable as non-ferrous metal. You can differentiate between the two by placing a magnet overtop. Ferrous metal will stick to the magnet, but non-ferrous metal will not. 

Geographical Location

The location of the scrap metal yards will also drive the value of the metal. Like with all things on the market, the value of the metal is driven by demand. If there is a lot of supply but not enough demand, the value of the metal will go down and you can expect yourself to get reasonably less for the same metal if it was brought to an area with a high demand, but low supply.

Due to this reason, it is generally best to go to busy industrial areas and cities when selling scrap metal. There are many businesses that are looking to purchase the scrap metal off of you making it a seller's market. You will be able to choose the best out of several offers. 


When looking to sell scrap metal, these 3 factors will easily influence the type of pricing that you receive. Keep in mind that the quantity of scrap metal that you have can also drive the offers that you get. If you are not happy with the offers that you are receiving, you can continue reading more about what prices you should be expecting and how to get them.