Scrap merchants from around the country are reporting a significant price rise in recent months, attributing the greater demand for all metals to a move towards greener economies.

Eddie Barry from Southern Truck Recycling in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, told the Irish Farmers Journal that ferrous metals such as steel and iron are up on average €80/t.

“Non-ferrous metals such as copper and brass are also up significantly. Even aluminium is up slightly, having reduced in value considerably in recent years as a result of the introduction of electric cars,” Barry said.

“Copper is up €1/kg, which is a very significant jump. Trade in our yard has picked up greatly recently, up between 15% and 20% on this time last year.”

Green economies

Jake Fanning from Haughey Metals in Dundalk, Co Louth, told the Irish Farmers Journal that stripped copper is at an 11-year high, selling at approximately €6,300/t while just six months previously it was selling at €4,500/t.

“Ferrous metals are up between €70/t and €100/t. There are multiple factors at play that have led to the jump. US president Joe Biden’s $2 trillion climate plan has created a lot of positive speculation.

“Governments are moving towards green economies and this in turn will make these metals more valuable. We’re going to need more metal for electric cables and batteries and scrap will play a big part in this.”

China demand

China has made significant moves towards more environmentally friendly steel-making, which focuses heavily on scrap melting.

China has redefined its definition of waste scrap to include recycling scrap.

To encourage greener steelmaking, recycling scrap in China has carried no duty from 1 January 2021.

Martin Murphy from Irish Metal Refineries said: “It takes a perfect storm to get scrap prices to the levels we are seeing currently. The dollar needs to be close to the value of euro and in the past couple of months it had headed in the right direction.

“Metal prices are largely influenced by speculation and currently buyers have a very positive outlook on the market. Supply and demand of course plays a significant role too and with Asian economies bouncing back, the hunger for scrap is there.”