Factors of Scrap Metal Pricing

scrap metal prices

Whether you are a small-time scrapper or a large scrap yard or refinery, the scrap metal market can be a tricky beast to understand. With the commodity market and stock market always changing hourly during the day, one can never be quite sure how it all works. With some easy to understand explanations and examples below, the iScrap App team is going to walk you through some of the major factors of scrap metal pricing.

What You Should Look Out for in the Scrap Metal Market

Many times scrappers and even scrap yard owners look to the market prices for commodities like copper and steel and expect that they will receive that price when going to their scrap yard or selling large quantities. That is not an accurate assessment of how scrap metal pricing works. There are several factors that affect the prices of scrap metal commodities through the US and international scenes. All of the following factors all affect one another and do not operate independently when determining scrap prices.

Market Price

While market prices on sites like LME and Comex may show the price for copper around an example price of $3.50/lb. that should never be the expected price a customer of a scrap yard would receive. Market prices are determined for commodities at the end of their life cycle and being turned into new products with large lots of copper.

Scrap Metal FactorsIndustry Demand 

Different industries like construction, electronics, and technology directly affect the commodities market and scrap. If the construction industry is slow the demand for steel and iron will go down and usually affect the price of the materials.


Depending on a scrap yard’s intake of scrap metals, that can determine their prices. If a scrap yard hauls and ships more copper pipe than another location, usually their prices will be higher because they will be recovering and shipping more materials.


Also along with quantity, the location of the scrap yard has to do with the current prices. Locations that are closer to ports and larger cities to send materials overseas to, will have less travel costs that someone inland. These locations closer to ports will generally be able to pay more money for materials.

Time of Year

Just like the markets with the holidays, the time of the year greatly affects a number of industries including construction and Automobiles. Different times of the year and weather can greatly affect the output of new products, thus bringing the demand lower and the scrap prices can change too.

International Trading

This can be a large factor in the scrap prices across the globe. Countries like China and India who have a large amounts of imports of scrap metal can affect the scrap prices globally.
Keeping an eye on the scrap prices can be overwhelming, but knowing what determines the current prices is important so you can better assess the change in prices at your scrap yard. If you would like to see the current scrap prices on a national and regional level, you can refer to the iScrap App. We set the national price averages every day, while also allowing iScrap Preferred Locations to update their prices regularly if they choose to.



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