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Scrap Copper: Gradings Explained

With an infinitely recyclable life, copper is among the most valuable metals available to scrap collectors. Used and reused in motors, computers construction and industrial machinery, copper is truly one of the most versatile metals out there. So, if you’re a scrap dealer of any kind, being able to source this highly recyclable metal is a brilliant thing to have.

However, there’s a problem: the prices that you might receive for copper ultimately come down to their grading. Given that different centres will price each grading differently, it’s certainly worth knowing your way around the system.

Bare Bright Copper

Bare bright copper is certainly the most valuable variety of copper, and is also referred to as “bright and shiny copper”. This variety of copper refers exclusively to bare, uncoated and unalloyed wires or cables, and should be no thinner than 16 gauge in thickness. It’s worth noting that copper piping is not included in this classification.

#1 Copper

This grade of copper is the second most valuable grade. It applies to copper which is clean, unalloyed and uncoated, usually in the form of bus bars, clippings, punchings, commutator segments. Small amounts of oxidation are still accepted, however. Copper pipes can be of #1 grade, provided they show few signs of corrosion and have their fittings removed.

#2 Copper

#2 copper is the third most valuable grade of copper and is characterised by its somewhat dirty appearance. It generally consists of unalloyed wire, pipe or solid metal that continues to have solder, paint and other coatings left on.

Its minimum copper content should be around 94% and, in order to qualify as this grade, any wire must be free of insulation and thinner than a 16th of an inch in diameter.

#1 insulated wire

This grade of copper consists of copper wire or cable which is clean, unalloyed, uncoated and untinned. It should be plastically insulated and be of 16 gauge thickness or larger. However, the insulation does not need to be stripped.

#2 insulated wire

This grade of copper is comprised of unalloyed wire which is thinner than 16 gauge and includes heavy, double or plastic insulation. This grade generally covers many common types of telecommunications wiring as well as electronics such as outlets and extension cords. If there are some coatings on the wiring or some degree of corrosion, it will still make the grade.

Hill Metal Recycling is the metal recycling experts, with services spanning scrap metal, copper, lead, brass, zinc, aluminium, steel and stainless steel recycling along with cable recycling, scrap metal collection and scrap car collection and depollution. We’re open to public, trade and businesses and offer the best scrap prices in Essex. If you’re looking for an easy in and easy out drop-off recycling service, you can always count on the friendly professionals at HMR. Contact one of our friendly team today for more information.