Scrap metal prices falling

Clovis Recycling Manager Jesus Chavarria fills a crushing machine with aluminum cans. He said the recycling operation is producing less as residents are waiting for scrap metal prices to rise.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Following the financial slowdown, scrap metal prices have fallen and local recyclers are feeling the pressure.

Maria Chavarria, who owns Clovis Recycling with her husband Francisco, said supplies of scrap metal have dwindled in the last two months because of the drop in scrap metal prices.

She said residents are holding on to their scrap metal while they wait for the price to rise.

The price of scrap aluminum dropped from 60 cents a pound to 40 cents a pound in the last two months while iron dropped from $200 a ton to $40 a ton, according to Michael Lingnau, who owns Ed’s Recycling.

He said mills who purchase scrap metals are not buying as much because of a drop in demand.

“Mills have no orders, so it trickles down to us,” he said.

Lingnau said he did see an increase in residents selling scrap metals two months ago.

“Before, the price was high enough to offset gas costs,” he said.

Francisco Chavarria said his recycling operation is selling half as much salvaged metals. He said the scrap yard usually produces about 640,000 pounds of aluminum a month and 2,400 tons of iron a month.

“(Price drops) happen, but not this bad,” said Chavarria who had been in the scrap metal business for 32 years.

The slowdown has also affected the number of his employees. He said he now has eight people after laying off five people.

Maria Chavarria said all they can do at the moment is wait until the prices rise again.

“When the market goes up, it goes up a little,” she said. “But when it drops, it drops a lot.”