Why do scrap metal prices change and how often do they fluctuate?

With the cost of living crisis still meaning that many of us are having to pinch the pennies, a lot of us are turning to additional ways of making money. One of the popular ways of doing this is by selling our scrap metal. It’s an easy way to make some money, and it reduces the amount of metal in landfills – so it’s a win win really. 

But why can a piece of metal be worth more this month than it was in the past? And how often do these prices fluctuate? We’re here to run you through both why and how often scrap metal prices change, so that you are able to put your scrap up for sale at the best time.

What is scrap metal?

Scrap metal is any waste metal that is capable of being recycled into something else. It is often found on construction sites in building supplies, in appliances and in old vehicles, and can originate from both commercial and residential use. Scrap metal can be anything from washing machines and dishwashers to electronic parts and copper pipes. 

Why is scrap metal so valuable?

Whether ferrous or non-ferrous, scrap metal can have extremely high value. One of the most important reasons for this is the energy and resource savings achieved through the reuse of scrap metal. Compared to the extraction of raw materials from the ground, recycling scrap metal is a much more energy-efficient process that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore is much more environmentally friendly.

As well as this, recycling scrap metal reduces the pressure on natural resources. The demand for metal across various industries can lead to extensive mining which can deplete non-renewable resources. When metal is recycled and reused multiple times, the need for new materials is reduced, which preserves delicate landscapes. 

Alongside the environmental benefits, scrap metal’s economic value is increased by its versatility. Regardless of whether you are recycling steel, aluminium, copper or other alloys, metal can be repurposed in a wide range of ways across various industries.

Why do scrap metal prices change?

So, we know that scrap metal is valuable, but why does its value fluctuate so often? Understanding why the value of scrap metal undergoes such fluctuations requires looking at the dynamics of industry trends.

The main reason for this change in price is the age-old phenomenon: the principle of supply and demand. This means that prices are driven by two main factors: what manufacturers require, and how much of that metal is already out in the market. 

The amount of scrap metal that already exists (the supply), will affect how much dealers are willing to pay for it. If the supply of the metal is high, the value drops due to its availability. However, if there is a reduced amount of a particular scrap metal available, higher prices can be demanded. 

The demand for scrap metal is tied to the requirements of the industries that rely on these materials. Specific types of metal will be required by different applications. For example, the automotive industry would probably require steel more than an electronics company, who would be more likely to need copper.

Demand will also be higher during periods of economic growth, as industries are more likely to thrive, increasing their need for raw materials, including scrap metal. On the other hand, economic crashes can lead to a decline in industrial activity, causing a decrease in the demand for metals.

How often do scrap metal prices fluctuate?

Again, this is not a one-size-fits-all answer and completely depends on the supply and demand. That means, in particularly volatile market conditions, the price of scrap metal can change daily and even hourly.

The best thing to do before scrapping your metal is to find out whether your chosen scrap yard will offer you a fixed quote. This means that, while you could lose out if the value goes up, you are protected if the value decreases.

Daily changes

It’s not common, but scrap yards can change their prices several times in a week or even in a day. However, this mainly happens if there is a surge in manufacturing in international markets, such as China or India.

Weekly changes

Probably the most common is the price of scrap changing weekly. These weekly changes reflect the consistent adjustments needed to align with market conditions, industry needs, and broader economic factors. 

Monthly changes

It doesn’t tend to happen often, however when the economy is generally in a good state, the price of scrap metal will change a lot less frequently, and will be only a small change. Another reason for a reduced frequency of fluctuation is a period of low demand for scrap metal. 

Scrap dealers will be closely monitoring these fluctuations and will adjust their pricing accordingly. 

Sell scrap metal with EJ Shanley

Wondering about the price of your scrap metal? We can buy all types of scrap metal, including ferrous, non-ferrous and precious, at both our reclamation centres in Trowbridge and Warminster. In order to cater for all kinds of deliveries, we have a large drive-on weighbridge and smaller scales. All you need to bring is some photographic ID, and we can give you our best scrap metal price and issue payment immediately. 

We also offer scrap vehicle recycling if you want to dispose of your vehicle. Learn more about our scrap metal recycling process on our website, or contact us for more details.

Keep Exploring Our Articles