Whilst there are a variety of different metals in existence, some of them tend to be recycled more often than others. There are actually four scrap metals (known affectionately as the “core four”) that are commonly recycled here in Australia and around the world. We have outlined each of these in a little more detail below, as well as some useful information on finding it as scrap. We hope it answers all your questions and helps you in your endeavours.
This is probably the most common of all scrap metals in existence and is easily identifiable – simply put a magnet to it and, if it sticks, you’re dealing with steel! Whilst steel is one of the heavier types, it’s also one of the cheaper ones (so don’t expect to make too much per kilogram). It can be found in many places around the home, from old washing machines through to coat hangers. The fact it is so prevalent has also had an impact on the overall value, so you need to find a lot to make any money.
The second most common metal is aluminium, which can be found in many different forms and grades. It is present in a lot of objects around the home and commercially, from window frames through to old car bonnets. It is often mistaken for steel, as they look quite similar. To determine which type of scrap you’re dealing with, simply put a magnet to the surface – if it doesn’t stick, it’s aluminium. Again, its prevalence has meant that it’s not worth a whole lot per kilogram.
The third most common scrap metal is copper, which is also the most valuable currently on the market. It can be find in a variety of places, including: old cooking pans, old plumbing, the windings from inside electric motors, cables and cords. It is often identifiable by it’s bright red colouring, but it’s a good idea to try sticking it to a magnet – if you’re dealing with real copper, it shouldn’t stick. Be wary when collecting copper, as there are some real problems with theft in Australia.
The fourth most common metal is probably brass, which is a copper and zinc alloy. It can also be found in a variety of places around the home and industry, including: plumbing, decorative ornaments, musical instruments and even certain electrical applications. It is often identifiable by its bright yellow or gold colouring, however, it is known to develop a green patina if left outside in the elements. Like aluminium and copper, this type of scrap will not stick to a magnet (so this is a great way to check it).
We hope that the information provided above has provided you with all the information you need to identify and collect the most common scrap metals found here in Australia. Whilst you can certainly collect any other metals that you find during your search, you will find the “core four” the easiest to find and value. Just be prepared to fork over your personal details when you arrive at the scrap yard (for legal reasons) and you’ll be fine.