7 Factors That Affect Scrap Metal Prices

pile of scrap metal in roane metals scrap yard in knoxville tn

7 Factors That Affect Scrap Metal Prices

Whether you are a regular scrapper or just started looking into selling scrap metal, you have probably noticed that scrap metal prices can fluctuate—and sometimes drastically—making the scrap metal market a difficult one to fully wrap your head around. One of the main things scrap yards look at when determining scrap metal prices is the current market price for the metal. However, this is just one of the many factors that can determine the prices at which a scrap yard can buy metals. Here is a list of some of the biggest factors that affect scrap metal prices.

1. Quality of Scrap Metal

The quality of the scrap metal you bring in will affect the price you’ll be given. If the scrap metal is corroded or covered in insulation or residue or if you have a mixture of metals per piece (aluminum with steel bolts, brass with or containing other metals, etc.), you will likely receive a lower price. This is because the scrap yard will need to spend more time cleaning the metal so that it can be processed and recycled. If you clean the scrap metal and properly remove any insulation before making a trip to a scrap yard, you will receive a higher price because you will be saving the scrap yard extra hours of labor.

2. Amount of Scrap Metal

If you sell a larger quantity of scrap metal to a scrap yard, the scrap yard will be able to give you a higher price. This is because scrap yards are often middlemen who are trying to sell the scrap metal you bring them to a processor or manufacturer who recycles the metal into a useful form. So, instead of bringing your scrap metal in one pound at a time, consider saving it until you have a truckload to sell. The scrap yard will need to do fewer transactions and pay fewer transportation costs, so they will be able to pay you a higher price for a larger quantity of scrap metal.

3. Supply and Demand

The laws of supply and demand rule just about every industry, including the scrap metal recycling industry. If a metal is in high demand and low supply, it will sell for a higher price at a scrap yard. If a metal is very common and in low demand, it will sell for a lower price. Paying attention to these trends can help you make more money when you sell your scrap metal. If you check scrap metal prices and notice that they are very low, you may want to consider holding on to your scrap metal until the prices go up as supply or demand changes. This is the single largest driver for scrap metal prices.

4. Time of Year

This may come as a surprise, but the time of year can be a factor that affects scrap metal prices as well. Generally, when the weather is nice, the demand for recycled metals is higher. This is mostly because of the construction and automobile industries, which are busier when the weather is nicer and slow down when cold, snowy weather hits. Although cold snowy weather has a bearing on prices as well, primarily steel items, due to the inability to source scrap steel for the steel mills due to icy roads, and cold weather issues at the mills. Historically steel scrap may increase during the winter months. Because the demand for recycled metals is higher during nice weather, you will be able to receive higher scrap metal prices during these times of the year.

5. Location

Where you live can have a major effect on the price you can get for your scrap metal. Typically, scrap metal is not fully processed at the scrap yard where you sell it, which means it must be transported somewhere for further processing. If the scrap metal will need to be transported long distances, you will likely get a lower price so that the scrap yard can afford to pay the large transportation costs. Additionally, if you live in a city where the cost of doing business is higher, you might experience lower scrap metal prices as well. If you sold scrap metal and received a lower price than you thought you should have, consider where you are as this could be the reason for lower-than-average scrap metal prices.

6. International Trade

The foreign market can have a tremendous effect on scrap metal prices. Countries that import a lot of scrap metal such as China and India can influence scrap metal prices globally when their demand changes. When these countries want to buy more scrap metal, prices will rise. When these countries’ demand for scrap goes down, scrap metal prices may fall. If importing countries change their policies, this can also affect how much scrap metal they will buy, which may affect the price you will receive for your scrap metal.

7. Market Prices of New Metals

Changes in the price of new metal in the market will affect the price of scrap metal. For example, when the price of new copper rises, companies will switch to recycled copper to save money, which will in turn cause the price of scrap copper to rise to match the increased demand. The opposite is also true. If the price of a new metal drops, companies will buy less scrap metal in favor of new metal, causing the scrap metal price to decrease as well. When you are looking to sell your scrap metal, check the trend of new metal market prices to see what the price of scrap metal will do.

Recycle Your Scrap Metal at a Local Scrap Yard

It’s time to make the most of that scrap metal that’s just lying around collecting dust and taking up space. Here at Roane Metals Group, we’ll take your unwanted metal off your hands and pay you the highest price possible for it. Our experienced team uses honest scales and stays up to date on current market prices and trends to make sure customers get the most money for their scrap metal. If you are ready to turn your old metal into cash, bring your scrap metal to one of our two convenient scrap yard locations in Rockwood, TN, and Crossville, TN. To find out more about scrap metal recycling or to ask about current scrap metal prices, give us a call at 865-354-4282 or contact us online.