New Jersey scrap metal dealers have been feeling the pinch of falling worldwide prices for iron, aluminum, brass and copper.

House Amid Junk
Scrap metal (Robert Kyllo, ThinkStock)

Tom Buechel, owner of Rockaway Recycling says for one example, steel prices have plummeted about 80 percent over the past 16 months.

"It is a very strange thing, what is going on right now," he said.

Buechel said China and India have hoarded so much material in the last few years, their demand, which really was high for the last five to 10 years, has decreased.

Buechel also blamed falling scarp prices on falling oil prices, or more accurately, a general lowering of global commodity prices that include oil and scrap metal.

"With oil going down so much, the metal went down with it. Oil prices went down, starting in 2014, and they just continued to fall into this year. So that is kind of where we are," he said.

Joe Mazza of Mazza Scrap Metal in Neptune says a strong overseas dollar is holding back the purchase of scrap. He has seen aluminum go from 50 cents- per pound to 34 cents.

"If they go up, great, and if they go down, well we just have to hang in there," he said.

Buechel said Copper prices have gone down about 35 to 40 percent.

"We have been in for a rocky ride for the last few months," he said.

Mazza says last year, they were buying metal at $7 every hundred (pounds) for light iron, which is your base metal, used anywhere from appliances to cars.

"Right now, we're buying it at significantly less prices because it is just the economy overall," Mazza said.

Dealers agree that the dropping scrap prices have consequences. For one thing, copper and brass thefts from closed homes have gone down.

"It is one of those things that ebbs and flows. When things are good, no one complains. And when things are bad everyone cries a river. But we just know that it is what it is and we are weathering the storm as best as we can," Buechel said.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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