3 Considerations For Salvaging Wire From Demolition Sites

Copper Wire

In many articles and posts about recycling and salvage in the demolition industry, the focus is on concrete, brick, stone and other similar materials. There's much more that can, and should, be recovered for recycling and reuse on a typical demolition site, however. That includes the salvage of wire. Effectively removing wire for recycling and reuse can have a profound impact on the bottom line of a project. Here are four things that experienced demolition contractors will consider when wire is present on a project site.

Type or makeup of wire

As with any material slated for recycling, you have to know the specific makeup and type of material you're dealing with. Specifically for wire, you'll need to know if the structure being demolished uses copper wire, or aluminum wire. This doesn't necessarily impact the salvage method, but it will significantly impact the value of the material and the market for it. It's often assumed that any wire on a site will be copper, but many of the structures nearing the end of their life cycle are likely to use aluminum. It's important to conduct the proper surveys and assessments to know which materials are present before any work begins.


The value of the wire salvaged from a demolition site is based on its weight. Because the wire will contain a portion of insulation that reduces its value, the overall weight of the material will be discounted by a percentage. It's important to understand this going in because experienced contractors will be able to maximize the valuation of the wire by separating the type of wire with more insulation, from wire with less. By using this tactic, each type will be weighed separately, and an accurate discount of the weight can be applied. There are additional concerns about the insulation around the wire too. Namely, it can contain hazardous materials like asbestos or PCBs, which would necessitate the use of trained and licensed professionals to handle and manage the wire. The presence of these hazardous materials may also prevent the wire from being salvaged effectively.

Metallic contaminants

It stands to reason that the highest value insulated copper wire, referred to as #1, contains no other metal contaminants. The next level of copper wire, #2, can contain brass connectors, solder, and plating, and is also noticeably thinner than #1. These so-called contaminants have far less value than the copper itself. So, typically you can raise the value of the materials salvaged by removing any non-copper materials before recycling. In many cases, this process can turn #2 grade copper wire into #1.At Demolition Technologies, we're dedicated to a variety of processes that make our demolition work more efficient, cost effective and environmentally friendly. Contact us to learn more about our capabilities.