Prices of scrap metal change from day to day and are slightly different at each scrap yard. This is because the prices of scrap metal are first determined by what each of the metals are buying and selling for on the stock market. Although scrap buyers and scrap yards may buy scrap locally, the majority of their scrap is shipped all over the country and even to different parts of the world.
As a scrapper, besides knowing the hot spots where you can always find scrap, the most important part of the job you are doing is knowing the prices of scrap metal. This is critical because how much money you are able to make each day is determined by how much money you have to spend in gasoline while out collecting scrap metal.
If you spend $20 a day in gas for example and at the end of the day, you have only collected 20 pounds of Zinc, you wont make any money. Why, because Zinc sells for a lower price than other metals. Zinc's price fluctuates but generally, stays right around 90 to 94 cents a pound, so 20 pounds of it will not even make your money back that you spent on gas.
Scrap nickel on the other hand, sells for a much higher price than Zinc. Nickel scrap generally hovers between $8 and $9 a pound and even in small amounts, you will always make some good money selling nickel as scrap metal.