Identifying Copper Scrap Grades

Scrapheap of copper Scrap copper is one of the most valuable recyclable materials due to its infinite recycling. In fact, more than half of the total copper used across the globe is recycled.

The value of scrap copper can be determined by identifying the different types of scrap copper grades. This categorises scrap copper according to its copper content and integrity.

Local scrap dealers usually have their own pricing. While their pricing scheme might be affected by factors like logistics and market trends, it is still mainly based on copper scrap grades. Dealers from, for example, can immediately provide a quote for a full payment on the spot.

Non-Insulated Copper Scrap

There are three grades for non-insulated copper scrap. The third most valuable is #2 copper, which can be easily identified by its somewhat soiled appearance caused by traces of solder, paint and other types of coating. Despite these impurities, this type of copper has a minimum copper content between 94 and 96 per cent.

The next most valuable grade is #1 copper. Unlike #2 copper, this type of copper is clean and uncoated. Most copper pipes and tubing pass as #1 copper scrap, especially when they still have their fittings intact and show very few traces of corrosion.

Bare bright copper is the most valuable non-insulated copper scrap. It is bright and shiny and free of any visible impurities like corrosion and oxidation. A negligible amount of patina on the surface is allowable, which makes copper more attractive in some cases.

Insulated Copper Scrap

Insulated copper is the least valuable scrap copper since they usually contain less copper content. Retrieving the copper content requires reclamation, smelting, refining and other processes.

Both grades of insulated copper, #2 and #1, consist of unalloyed wire commonly found in telecommunication wires and other electronics. When the insulation is removed, #2 insulated copper should like #2 copper. When the insulation of #1 insulated copper is removed, its appearance must be close to bare bright copper.

Learning the different types of scrap copper grades is the first step to making the most out of your recyclable metal waste. To get an accurate valuation on your scrap copper, it is advisable to work closely with your local scrap dealer.