C&D Recycling Forum: Maximizing Metals Markets

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More value can be realized from the metals recovered from a demolition site.

October 6, 2010
CDR Staff
Conferences & Events

There are many steps that demolition contractors can take to increase the value of the metals that are recovered from a demolition site.

At a session offered during the 2010 C&D Recycling Forum entitled “Maximizing Metals Markets,” Jim Lawrence (pictured at right), senior managing director of Specialty Steel Products, Inc., Braddock, Pa., gave advice to attendees on how to get the biggest bang for their buck from the metals they recover from a demolition site. He explained how having a clean product, being able to identify higher grades of nonferrous metals and knowing the state of metal markets can mean an increase in profits.
“The cleaner a product is, the better it is for you,” said Lawrence adding, “Make sure you have as clean a product as you possibly can.”
If your material is not clean and you don’t know what is in it, you can risk getting paid less for your scrap than what it is worth, according to Lawrence.
In addition to being clean, it is important to be able to identify the metal you have, Lawrence told attendees. The difference between yellow and red brass, for example, could easily mean a difference of several cents per pound. Aluminum grades can vary by as much as 50 cents per pound.
“Helping to understand those differences is going to put money in your pocket,” said Lawrence.
With just a little bit of prep, a window frame can go from a #2 grade of aluminum to a #1 grade and pick up about 10 cents per pound in value, Lawrence told attendees.
Also weighing in on the panel discussion were Drew Lammers of Middletown, Ohio-based Cohen Bros. Inc. and Rob Dorinson of Las Vegas-based Evergreen Recycling, a Republic Services company. Lammers said that while 10 cents may not sound like much, over the course of a year that 10 cents can begin adding up to $100,000 more in profits.
With both ferrous and nonferrous metals, Lawrence says understanding the markets such as the London Metal Exchange (LME) and COMEX will also help contractors know what price they should be getting for their metal.
“Dealers are out there to make a buck too. I think you [had] better understand your values,” said Lawrence.
Knowing what the metal is worth as well as when to sell is also important in maximizing the value, according to Lawrence. He adds that the same holds true for ferrous metals.
“A little bit of knowledge will go a long way,” he advised.
The 2010 C&D Recycling Forum took place Oct. 3-5 at the Sheraton Inner Harbor in Baltimore. A PDF of the presentation is available on the Forum's Web site.