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  • Insulated copper wire - what grades?

    Hi all,
    I thought I would start a thread on general grading and selling strategies of insulated copper wire.

    Now I know that different yards and different areas have their own pricing/classifications - but I figured it would be interesting to compare here..

    In his videos, Ewaste Ben (Melbourne) refers to "mid grade wire" regularly which appears to be clean (no plugs) mains cords and similar. Melbourne prices appear to be around $2 - $2.20 per kg. He also refers to "low grade wire" which is thinner gauge and contaminated with plugs etc such as ribbon wire, Christmas tree lights, and antenna (coax) cable - or any other wire where he couldn't be bothered removing plugs... around $1 per kg??

    Inner City recycler mentions "low grade insulated" in Sydney @ $2.35 per kg (I assume that's no-plugs). Also, a grade called "attachment wire" which appears to be cat5/6 (no plugs) @ 90c per kg.

    As I'm trying to accumulate a large quantity before I do a trip to Melbourne, I'd like to understand what the yards are likely to want separated!!

    Currently, anything thicker than a heavy duty mains power cord, I'll strip - so that's fine.
    All appliance power cords, heavy-ish speaker wire, and decent gauge electrical wire such as PC power supply looms, I bag up making sure there are no plugs, sockets or terminals. I assume this would be somewhere around the $2-$2.30 price range at the moment.
    All other thinner wire, including telephone cables, light speaker wire, ribbon wire, cat5/6 wire etc, I'm bagging up as "low grade"(?) - I'm still snipping plugs etc off... (no xmas tree lights or coax though). Should I expect around $1/kg for this or better?? Am I better to leave all the plugs on for this grade as it would save me time and actually weigh more!!

    How about all your standard PC cables with USB plugs eg. printer cords, phone charger cords etc - are they the same as ethernet cables. Do I leave the plugs on and throw them in the "low grade" bag?

    What's everyone's experiences here?

    Some pics for reference...

  • #2
    Both the yards I have used (I don't count the yards i used previously as I didn't have the foggiest what i was doing or what I was getting paid for) classified in this way:

    Low Grade Cu Insulated.
    Less than 30% copper recovery.
    No plugs.
    No Co-axial.
    They never said a word when I had cat5/6 or printer cable, ribbon cable, phone cable, appliance cable with both layers of insulation etc. I put it all in. "Attacnemt wire only arose because I deliberately separated my Cat5/6. I'll put it all together in the future.

    If the plugs were removed from everything in the photos then they'd pay $2+ low grade Cu.

    Mid grade CU Insulated.
    ABN required (at my yard)
    30%-60% Cu recovery.
    No plugs.
    Includes appliance wire with the first layer of insulation removed, heavy grade TPS (twin and earth household wiring), whatever else they think fits the bill.


    • #3
      Thanks Brad - seems Sydney & Melbourne vary somewhat!
      Perhaps I'll take a load of something else with just a bag or two of various wire. I really don't want to sell large quantities of $2+ wire in with the lowest grade!

      Hopefully Ben will give his thoughts on Melbourne yards - or anyone else who sells in Melbourne..



      • #4
        Grading and terminology seems to vary a lot from yard to yard.
        I think it depends on how the yard deals with their insulated wire, some get it processed themselves, others sell it to a processor who pays on copper recovered, others export so they grade it according to how they can sell it.

        I have a new yard for non ferrous and this yard has 3 grades of wire that we scrappers normally bring in, aside from your higher grade wire which is generally best to strip it and sell as milberry copper.

        My trip today was for standard insulated wire with plugs & ends removed.

        $2.30 kg which is for just about all regular insulated wire with plugs cut off like extension leads, general power lead and insulated wire like from power supplies or wire in genera. they call it pvc 43% min.

        Other prices I got was data cable, basically your cat 5/6 wire, ribbon wire etc $1.80 kg, mind you my previous yard would grade data cable as low grade and only $1 kg
        Low grade or wire with plugs still on is $1.10 kg at this yard, this would be anything with plugs, x-mas lights, antenna wire etc.

        Buying eWaste link here


        • #5
          Thanks Ben - appreciate your comments.

          So it seems data cable is still worth snipping plugs off then for the $1.80. I guess this includes USB cables, phone lines, fine speaker wire etc?

          I'll make a third category then for stuff that's not worth taking plugs off..

          By the way - well done on all the PCs you picked up in your latest vid! Just watched it tonight - you had the Midas touch!

          My next video will be up tomorrow night - a walk around my back yard! I think people may be shocked! Hahaha..



          • #6
            Interesting comment Ben.
            It makes me wonder if the guy at my yard thought my cat 5/6 had plugs (attachments) on it, hence the low price.

            Thank you for sharing your knowledge.