Copper wire is widely available. It’s used in most electrical wiring—especially anywhere involving industrial power distribution—and in plenty of electrical equipment. Any time you clear out a commercial space, you are likely to have plenty of copper wire at your disposal.
In addition to the prevalence of copper wire, it has a relatively high value compared to most other salvage materials. This is because of its high copper concentration—in most cases, it’s composed of pure copper, as this offers the best conductivity. Compared to steel and aluminum, copper’s worth is higher at a rate of dollars to pennies.
Due to the highly conductive nature of copper, pre-recycled wiring will always be encased in a thick amount of cover, and only the copper within will be worth anything. Though copper wire is always a great way to get cash at the scrap yard, you should check the recovery rate to see how much value it actually has.
Fortunately, calculating the copper wire recovery percentage is a fairly simple process. Simply take a small segment of cable and weigh it. Take note of that number and then strip the casing so that you are left with only the copper wire at the core of the cable. Weigh the copper by itself, then divide that number by the overall weight of the sample.
The resulting percentage is your recovery rate, which you should be able to apply to all of the cable you’re dealing with in order to see how much cash you can expect to receive.
Depending on your time and resources, you can either strip the wire yourself or take it to a scrap yard to have them do it for you. The second option will decrease your bottom line, but depending on your staffing and equipment it might well be worth it.
Whether you choose to strip the wire before bringing it to a junk yard or not, be sure to separate it by type, as different wires will have different trade-in values depending on the concentration of copper.
If you have a high quantity of copper wire cable to recycle, consider enlisting the assistance of an experienced recycling expert at a recycling yard near you. They can help with scrap removal and pickup while providing a fair, consistent price. That way, you get paid without the hassle of collecting, cleaning or hauling in your copper wire.