Sorting Techniques of Non-Ferrous Programs Reviewed at July MOM Meeting

Ira Gross from Schnitzer Steel was NRRA’s guest speaker for the MOM meeting held virtually on July 14th. Schnitzer is one of the country’s largest recyclers of scrap metal and a long-term vendor of NRRA. They collect, broker, process, and recycle ferrous and non-ferrous metal.

Schnitzer Steel has two facilities in NH – one in Concord and one in Manchester.  Ira encouraged members to visit their Manchester facility to get a sense of how a metal yard operates. Members can tour the non-ferrous sorting tables and see how they might set up a similar layout in their town. In 2020, Schnitzer installed a wire granulations system to process and segregate wire. They make “chops” and use a spectrometer to analyze the makeup of the material to make sure it meets specs. Ira shared with NRRA members how to sort metals for a non-ferrous program at their municipal recycling facility.

If your town is thinking about starting a non-ferrous metal program to make the most revenue out of incoming material, here are the top materials to sort:

  • Yellow brass (brass faucet or plumbing joint)
  • Copper (#1, #2, or recovery)
  • Old sheet aluminum (door and window frames)
  • Bare bright copper (bright and shiny wire)
  • Recovery brass (door and light fixtures)

Brian Patnoe, Solid Waste Manager for the Town of Lancaster, NH, noted that he was able to earn $10,000 so far this year with 20 different separations.  If staff can invest some time, the town can earn a lot for their materials.

Ira cautioned that NH residents should not put bullet casings in with their copper sort. One bullet case could get an entire load rejected for export. Bullet casings can be placed in a 5-gallon pail for recycling.

The future of high prices is bright because as people wish to reduce their carbon footprint, they need copper conductors to drive that e-economy.

The full Schnitzer Presentation on Non-Ferrous Sorting Techniques is available so that you can learn more. Please contact if you would like to set up a new scrap metal program.