How to Recycle Copper Power Cords

Written by caprice castano
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How to Recycle Copper Power Cords
Copper is a highly sought after precious metal you can recycle from your scrap power cords. (Ron Levine/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Recycling has become an important consideration in the modern age due to concerns about contaminating the earth. A positive side to some recycling is that money can be made from reclaiming items such as precious metals like copper. Copper is a common element of power cords as it conducts electricity efficiently. Copper is used in several forms depending on the type of cord, often it is braided copper wire, or can be heavier gauge wire, that can be reclaimed, recycled and sold.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Razor knife
  • Wire cutter / stripper
  • Needle nose pliers

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  1. 1

    Collect old, damaged or unused power cords. Be sure they are not a necessary item for an appliance in your home before you begin. Cords can be removed from junk appliances or other devices by simply cutting them off at the base.

  2. 2

    Cut the plug end of the cord away and collect in a bag to turn in at a recycling centre.

  3. 3

    Begin at one end of the cord, and cut through the outer cover of the cord. Peel away a section to see what type of wire is inside and what type of insulation is in the cord. Some cords are simply an insulated cover with heavy wire inside, others have smaller bundles of individually insulated wires. Peel away the entire outer cover by slicing down the centre of the cord carefully and peeling it away. This can be done in sections.

  4. 4

    Remove inner bundles of smaller wires covered in insulated sleeves, and repeat the process for removing the cord cover, cut carefully through the sleeve and remove by peeling the insulation off in sections.

  5. 5

    Strip any remaining plastic or insulation from the copper wiring or braided wire bundles until you have removed as much as possible. Never burn away the plastic coating or insulation as this produces toxic fumes and is against the law in many areas.

  6. 6

    Sort the wires according the grade. To determine the grade contact your local scrap recycler and ask how they classify what they accept. Be careful to separate these items correctly, as a lower grade item in a bundle with higher grade items will mean you get the lowest price for the entire bundle. Take the wires once they are sorted and turn them in to the recycler.

    Recycling Centers

  1. 1

    Locate your local Best Buy store, and take the power cords there to the recycling kiosk in the store. Every Best Buy location now has a kiosk that accepts many electronic items including power cords.

  2. 2

    Search Earth911's website for recycling centres near you. Use the link below to connect, then type in your zip code to get a list of places that accept copper power cords in your area.

  3. 3

    Access for another source to find recycling centres in your location. Go to the website and type in your zip code or state and search the data base for locations that accept copper power cords for recycling.

  4. 4

    Call the local waste hauling company in your area, and ask if they accept items in a recycling location or if they have a list of those that do.

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