Scrap metal prices up

More trucks and trailers like this are pulling into area scrap yards like Alter Metal Recycling these days.

It's a sign that scrap metal prices are back up 70 percent, after hitting the dumps more than a year and a half ago.

Bret Robinson, Commercial Manager of Alter Metal Recycling said, "We are seeing more people coming back. When they (prices) got low, the supply wasn't there, the demand wasn't there, so people just quit scrapping."

That's changing. Prices are at some of the highest ever seen, except for the summer of 2008, just before the market tanked.

Here's why. First, demand for scrap metal has gone up around the world. Countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China are investing in industry and infrastructure right now, so they need to import scrap metal. Also, fewer people sold their scrap metal when prices were low, so there is less of it in the market. Following the rules of supply and demand...less scrap metal and more demand for it lead to these higher prices at the yard.

Robinson said, "The demand is truly out-pacing the supply."

Buyers like Alter Metal Recycling are trying to meet the growing demand, shipping hundreds of tons of metal a day out of its Quincy scrap yard here on Gardner Expressway.

So what makes the most cash? The metals most in demand include steel used in cars, refrigerators, lawn mowers, freezers, washers and dryers and old swing sets.

Demand and prices are a bit higher for copper, aluminum and stainless steel. And you can find these cash cows in some interesting places. Old extension cords contain valuable copper wire, and could be worth as much as a dollar-fifty. That's money in the bank, and an opportunity to clean out your junk without cluttering up a landfill.

Demand for scrap metal is on the rise in this country, but not as high as in other countries.

Those countries are buying scrap metals cheaper than what it would cost them to refine new steel.