Copper is one of the most valuable common metals. Copper recycling is common because copper is used in several everyday applications such as electrical work and plumbing. Because there are a wide variety of applications, copper scrap also has several different categories. If you are looking to sell copper for scrap, understanding the different categories and sorting accordingly can make a big impact as scrap copper prices can vary greatly.
The guide below should provide some basic information on the common scrap copper categories. If you are uncertain about what copper you have, or if your material is not listed on the guide, the experts at Metro Group are ready to help. Call or come in today to take advantage of decades of scrap recycling expertise.
Copper Recycling Guide
BRIGHT AND SHINY (WIRE ONLY) - Copper wire that is shiny in appearance. This copper does not have any corrosion and has not been burned. It cannot be insulated or coated in any form (for example, some wire has a tin coating). It must be free of all other contaminates.
#1 COPPER (WIRE & PIPE) - #1 copper includes both wire and piping. Wire must be bare (without insulation) and thicker than the width of a penny. It does not have solder, corrosion, insulation, paint, etc.
#2 COPPER (WIRE & PIPE) - #2 copper also includes both wire and piping. Wire must be bare (without insulation) and is typically less thick than the width of a penny. #2 copper allows for some solder and other corrosion.
#1 INSULATED COPPER WIRE - Insulated scrap copper wire is typically categorized as #1 if the copper to insulation ratio is greater than 75%. The wire must be 16 gauge or thicker, and if stranded, each strand must be thicker than 1/16". Wire must also not have additional coatings such as tin or nickel.
#2 INSULATED COPPER WIRE - This wire must have a copper to insulation ratio of 50% - 75%. Wire smaller than 16 gauge is acceptable. Some corrosion or other coatings such as tin and nickel are also considered #2 insulated copper.
STRIPPABLE COPPER WIRE - If the plastic/rubber insulation can be stripped from the wire, it will bring a premium price. Strippable wire is typically thicker than 1/2" and has only a single layer of insulation.