I get a call every couple of weeks from copper buyers. "Hey, I'm in the area and I have this copper order to fill. I have cash in hand and am ready to buy wire, breakers, motors, etc." You guys get these calls as well. My question is are these companies usually legit? I don't keep a ton of copper around but they claim to pay #1 grade prices for unstripped copper. It sure is easier than going to the scrap yard.
I can't see where they can have any other function but to scam tradesmen with lowball quotes - or to fence hot copper.
It's not as if there's any lack of competitive buying for scrap, even now.
If these guys have an opening -- it's buying at corporate liquidations and police auctions. Regular scrap merchants are not normally going to attend auctions. (DoD salvage is another matter, of course.)
Scrap yards do try to verify that they are not buying stolen copper (usually because of strict laws). These brokers can "launder" a lot of stolen copper by mixing it in with copper they have a good legal trail for from contractors and other legitimate businesses. They can afford to pay you a lot for that provenance because they can pay low prices for stuff that comes from thieves. I have talked to some full time scrappers and they spend a lot of time stripping metal down to it's cleanest form. They say it is a living and a tax free one too.
I know around here, the removal of anything metal from the curb is never a problem. Things like white goods will not last a day. The scrapper said they take the motors apart for the windings, Strip out all the wire, separate the aluminum and smash the steel as flat as they can. With all of that, I doubt they get more than $20 for a washing machine.
White goods were a very hot item during the first few days of hurricane Sandy & the tidal surge around here. I put a washer, dryer, & small fridge at the curb (per the ins. co.) and it was picked up within a few hours. Guys were all over the area, until the law showed up.
Back as an EC, there was one guy who would call when he was in the area looking to buy breakers mainly. He paid cash, & bought almost everything that I had each time. Fair price? All of it was from demo jobs, so the $$$ was fair!
He really wanted some old switchgear (4160 & 480) and he would salivate every time he came to my shop. Unfortunatley, it was still in use!!
Scrappers still are around, a few have 'permission' to pick up in the industrial/office parks. They take all metal, steel studs, EMT, etc.
When I was in business, my friend took all of my old scrap. He took everything and I didn't ask him for a penny. He was a customer of mine and he also helped me by keeping my shop clean. It also kept the wife from yelling at me about junk in the yard.
The county really does not care about scrappers picking up the white goods. It saves them money. The county and the haulers have not figured out how to make money recycling them (labor cost mostly). The haulers have a guy that drives the routes before pickup day verifying that all the called in "large items" are actually still there before they send the truck. The only thing that survives are TVs and computer monitors but the cords get cut off.
The county does get serious about people picking cans out of the recycle since that is about the only thing they can actually make money on. They even went after a trailer park for NOT putting cans in the recycle. They were collecting them in separate containers at the club house and selling them. I am not even sure how that was illegal.
Greg: There is a large metals recycle yard about 1 mile from my house that had a mountain of white goods about 25-35' high, most of which I guess was results of the storm. I don't have a clue what the value of scrap white goods is.
A new large commercial electronics recycler recently opened in one of the industrial parks. They do electronics of all kinds. Very clean, secure, professional operation. A lot of the stuff goes to Port Newark for a trip to China or ??
The comment about going after someone for not recycling something that is theirs is interesting. A 'Jersey Lawyer' would jump on that in a heartbeat!!