5 Common Grades of Copper Scrap

Copper foil sheets for recyclingMetal recycling yards love copper. However, it’s the grade of the copper you carry that will determine the value of your scrap. Here are five categories of copper scrap traded at recycling centres.

1.    Bare Bright Copper

Bright and shiny, this is a most sought grade. This faint orange or yellow- and bright-coloured copper is the most valuable grade. Copper recycling dealers pay best prices for this grade.

The scrap is of number one copper quality. The classification includes clean, bare, uncoated, and unalloyed wires and specific cables. Copper piping can’t be bright and shiny.

2.    No. 1 Copper

This category is the second most valuable scrap copper. The grade comprises clean, unalloyed, uncoated and untinned wires and cables of the recommended gauge. Clean copper solids and clean, copper tubing may also qualify as grade 1 copper. But the materials have to be free of paint, fittings, insulation, or solder.

3.    No. 2 Copper

This somewhat dirty scrap is the third most valuable category. #2 Copper include unalloyed wires, solid metal or pipes that still have paint, solder or coating. The minimum copper content of No. 2 grade ranges from 94 to 96 per cent. Wires should be free of insulation and of acceptable diameter.

4.    No. 1 Insulated Wire

#1 insulated copper wire must be clean, unalloyed and uncoated. The insulation on the wiring should be plastic. Stripped No. 1 insulated wire resembles bright and shiny grade copper.

5.    No. 2 Insulated Wire

If you remove the insulation on this unalloyed wiring, the wires look like Grade 2 copper. Yards may also accept scrap that contains tin or nickel coatings and some corrosion. Conventional sources of this scrap include telecommunications wiring, outlet cords and extension cables.

Copper scrap is one of the most valuable and most sought recycling materials. Still, it’s important to source quality copper scrap. Luckily, identifying the grade of copper scrap is easy.