Why Does Aluminium Scrap Have a Range of Prices?

When you research aluminium prices to see how much your scrap is worth, you'll notice that dealers quote a range of prices rather than a fixed one. Why is this?

How Purity Affects the Price of Aluminium

When scrap or recycling dealers buy metals, they grade them by purity. If the scrap you want to sell is just made from aluminium, then it is known as pure or clean aluminium. If your scrap also contains other materials, then the metal is no longer 100% pure. The more materials aluminium contains, the less it is worth. So, pure aluminium gets the highest prices in quote ranges; lower grades pay out less.

Why Purity Matters

It's a lot easier and quicker to recycle pure aluminium. If the metal also contains other materials, then these all need to be separated before the aluminium can be used again. This adds extra steps to the process and increases recycling times. Therefore, the costs of recycling the aluminium are higher than if the metal was pure. The more complicated recycling is, the less you'll get paid for the scrap. Recyclers have margins to meet.

How to Assess Aluminium Quality 

Aluminium can contain or be coated with various materials. For example, it's common for aluminium to be mixed with things like steel, paint or plastics. Sometimes, it's easy to tell if you're dealing with pure aluminium or not. For example, a plain aluminium pan is likely to just contain the metal itself. This should give you the highest price on in the range based on the pan's weight.

However, if the pan has an obvious non-stick coating or a thermal plastic handle, then it may not be graded as pure. You'll still be paid by weight, but the money you get will be calculated based on a lower price in the range.

Tip: If your scrap has parts added to it that aren't made from aluminium, then removing these parts may increase the price you get.

Sometimes, you may not be able to tell if your scrap contains other materials and you'll need expert advice. Take your scrap to local dealers or recycling centres and get it priced up.

Even if you're disappointed not to get the highest price in the range for your aluminium, you will get some cash. This is better than nothing — after all, if you just threw the scrap away, you wouldn't make any money from it at all. For more information, contact a company like Metal Merchants.