With copper production dropping and demand for the material increasing nationwide, taking old wires and plumbing materials to a copper recycling center can be a lucrative way to make use of unwanted items. This type of metal scrap can be melted down for use in automotive components, electrical applications, and household goods, all while mitigating the environmental impact of mining and smelting. Here’s what you should know about the copper recycling process.
What Do You Need to Know About Recycling Copper Materials?
Finding & Salvaging Copper
Copper can be found in a wide variety of domestic and industrial locations. For much of the 20th century, it was the material of choice for plumbers, and substantial amounts of piping can be found when renovating or demolishing older structures. Even today, smaller water pipes are often made from this type of metal. Its other uses include wiring in electrical systems, electronics, and household appliances, as well as refrigerant coils in air conditioning units and refrigerators.
When preparing your scrap, keep clean items separated from those contaminated with refrigerants or other chemicals. Bundle copper wire together to make handling easier, and weigh it to get an idea of its value. With this estimate in mind, contact a local copper recycling center to schedule a drop-off appointment. Let them know if your copper is insulated, as this will require additional processing to prepare the material for recycling.
How Copper is Recycled
Clean copper piping, wiring, and machine parts are typically sent directly to copper alloy mills, where the material is converted into new wire, strips, sheets, and rods. Some copper is sent to brass mills, where it’s placed in large electric induction furnaces and melted into heavy cakes or billets that are turned into strips, rods, plumbing hardware, or mechanical components.
Copper alloys—which contain metals like zinc, iron, or nickel that can’t be removed—must be handled by a specialized facility that can purify the material's components. Insulated scrap wiring is stripped and cleaned before it’s chopped and melted down for reuse.
Turn old wires, pipes, and other forms of scrap metal into cash at Denver Metal Recycling in Colorado. This copper recycling center offers fair value on all scrap and proudly turns unwanted metal into useful, environmentally friendly materials. The team at this facility can also take unwanted steel, batteries, scrap cars, and other materials off your hands. Call (303) 316-2880 with questions, and visit the center online to learn more about their services.