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6 Valuable Scrap Metals to Recycle in 2023

One of the biggest questions around the scrap metal recycling industry is “What is the most valuable metal to scrap?” In this article, we will explain which metals are the most valuable to recycling centers across the USA and which metals your scrap yard should purchase from sellers.

First, it should be noted that there are many scrap metals that a scrap yard should NOT purchase from sellers. They are as follows:

  • Toxic materials like plutonium, uranium, or mercury

  • Gas canisters or propane tanks

  • Paint cans

  • Car parts (headlamps, screens, gps units)

  • Television or computer monitors

  • Pots and pans

  • AC units with freon

  • Dirty refrigerators

There are quite a few items that cannot be recycled, so it is a good practice to research your local large scrap metal recyclers and see what is accepted.

But back to the main question – “What is the most valuable metal to scrap?”

1. Copper

Copper is found in wires, switches, air conditioning units, refrigeration units, pipes, and more! It is used throughout your home and one of the most expensive metals due to its amazing electric conduction properties. Most scrap recyclers even accept copper shavings.

The recycling of copper is absolutely essential to keep up with the demand for this specific metal. Copper is used in so many household items that make our lives easier, therefore it is one of the most valuable metals you can scrap in 2023.

2. Brass

Brass is another metal that is valuable to the recycling industry. It is one of the only metals that can be recycled continually without losing its strength. Also, it is generally more expensive and hard on the environment to mine for new brass than it is to recycle.

You can find brass in many high-touch places:

  • Mail boxes

  • Door handles, locks, or knockers

  • Coat hooks

  • Light switches or light fixtures

  • Lawn ornaments

It’s found in so many places because it is so resistant to corrosion. When recycling, ensure that the brass is clean and free of any plastics or paints to get the most return on investment.

3. Aluminum

Aluminum is one of the best metals to recycle. It’s even said that 75% of aluminum ever produced is still being used in 2023. This is possible because of scrap metal yards all over the world. Aluminum is very light, meaning you’ll have to gather large quantities of it in order to make money. But, aluminum is virtually everywhere:

  • Aluminum cans

  • Roofing and gutters

  • Wheels, body panels, and engine blocks

  • Boats

  • Bike frames

  • Other consumer packaging

You can find amazing deals on products with aluminum on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, a local secondhand shop, or on street corners (depending on your neighborhood).

4. Silver

Silver is another precious metal that can bring in a pretty penny when sold as scrap. You can find silver in your own silverware drawer. Silver is used in cars, electronics, solar technology, jewelry, housewares, mirrors, and more!

“Sterling Silver” is less valuable than silver, as it is mixed with other metals and is not as pure. Sterling silver is used commonly for jewelry and silverware.

5. Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel is yet another type of metal that scrap yards will purchase. There are hundreds of grades of stainless steel which means pricing can vary wildly based on the type of stainless steel you have on hand.

Stainless Steel is used in many construction projects due to its ability to resist corrosion, and its ability to withstand heat. You can find stainless steel in:

  • Food & Beverage – appliances, countertops, cookware

  • Construction projects – tanks, pipes, roofing, building supports

  • Cars & Bikes – exhaust systems, motorcycle bodies

  • Energy sector – tanks, valves and piping.

  • Medical industry - equipment, carts

6. Lead

Finally, Lead is a metal worthy of scrapping for many reasons. First, it can bring in a good profit to the scrapper selling the material. Also, it’s a toxic heavy metal that can harm the environment if not handled correctly. Though it is a naturally occurring element, it’s best to recycle lead so as to maintain our environment.

Lead is a strong, heavy metal used for many high impact and reactive purposes. You can find lead in bullets, batteries, and weights (usually in car wheels) and lead bars. Most scrap yards will purchase lead as it is very easy to recycle. Also, it’s said that over half of the lead used throughout the world each year is recycled.


Now that we’ve detailed six metals that are valuable to scrap yards and how to find them, it’s important to have the right systems to make purchasing them easy. Every scrap yard and recycling operation will need a system specifically designed to purchase scrap metals – that’s where Metal to Money comes in!

M2M Cloud is a software and hardware system that was built specifically to make the life of the scrap yard owner easier and more streamlined. Want a demo? Schedule one today for free!

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