Can I Make Money Recycling Catalytic Converters?

Educational

Oct 22nd, 2020

Can I Make Money Recycling Catalytic Converters?

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at how and why you can make money recycling catalytic converters.

If you take a closer look at your car, you'll realise that almost everything inside of it is recyclable. Even when it comes to the hard plastic that they use to make the dashboard, recyclers can take that material, break it down, and use it to make something else. 

What most car owners don't realise is that some recycled car parts are worth more than others. All of it depends on the value of the materials that manufacturers use to produce those parts. The demand for those materials after recycling will also have an impact on their market price. For example, you'd probably be surprised if I told you that used catalytic converters are worth a fair bit!

What is a catalytic converter?

First of all, let’s get back to basics. What exactly is a catalytic converter, and what function does it play in cars?

A catalytic converter is a part of the car’s exhaust system. Its job is to reduce toxic gases and other pollutants from the exhaust before it flows out into the open air. You’ll also find catalytic converters on different pieces of equipment that generate exhaust fumes like electric generators, locomotives, and more.

Why are catalytic converters valuable?

Here’s where it gets interesting. Equipment manufacturers use precious metals as the catalyst in the catalytic converter. These include palladium which functions as an oxidation catalyst, rhodium as a reduction catalyst, and platinum which performs both of those functions simultaneously. 

Together, these catalysts help to convert harmful exhaust gases into something a lot less toxic for the environment. Being ‘catalysts’, they do not change in any way, even though they cause a chemical reaction in the exhaust gases which essentially cleans them.

In case it wasn’t obvious already, precious metals are worth quite a fair bit of money. Sure, you might not get rich just by recycling one catalytic converter. There isn’t that much precious metal in a single catalytic converter to make you a millionaire. Still, you’d be wasting a significant amount of money by throwing away a catalytic converter that’s no longer in use.

Can I recycle a catalytic converter?

So, with all that precious metal inside catalytic converters, can you make money by sending them to a recycler? The answer is YES. As a general rule in life, wherever there are precious metals, there’s always a recycler who’s willing to pay you for it. It doesn’t matter if it's a computer motherboard (which has precious metals, too, by the way) or a catalytic converter; recyclers are the only ones with the gear and the expertise necessary to rip those things apart and get the precious metals back out.

You might be wondering if you could do it yourself at home. Technically, you could. However, there aren’t enough precious metals inside a single catalytic converter to make that worth the effort. Recyclers are willing to do the job because they recycle hundreds if not thousands of used catalytic converters at a time, making it feasible for them to do so.

So, unless you’re willing to invest in loads of equipment and expertise, it’s best to leave the recycling to those businesses.

Why are so many catalytic converters being stolen?

When you understand what precious metals go into making a catalytic converter, it should come as no surprise that this car part is a tempting target for savvy thieves. Gone are the days when criminals would try to break into your car to steal your stereo or look for loose change. These days, thieves are willing to crawl under your vehicle and snatch your catalytic converter away in only a few minutes. All they need is a battery-powered saw to cut off any metal piping to set the converter free.

Thieves take the used catalytic converters and sell them off to recyclers and walk away with the cash.

Do hybrid cars have catalytic converters?

Catalytic converters exist on any vehicle that has a combustion engine, even hybrid cars. The good news is that on a hybrid, the catalytic converters usually last longer. That’s because they are used a lot less and therefore take a much longer time to wear out.

The bad news? Thieves looking for catalytic converters love targeting hybrids for the same reason. They know that on a hybrid, especially a newer model, the converters will be in much better condition and therefore worth more money when recycled.

How much do you get for scrapping a catalytic converter?

So, how much can you (or the thieves) get for scrapping a catalytic converter? Used catalytic converters can be worth over $250 in Australia, though that would depend on a few key factors. Above all, it depends on how much of the different precious metals exist in the converter. 

Here are just some of the factors that determine how much you’d get from scrapping a catalytic converter:

  • Car make and model

The catalytic converters on some car models are worth more than others. That’s because each model will carry a different composition of the various precious metals inside of it.

  • Hybrid or Conventional

As mentioned earlier, recycling catalytic converters from hybrid vehicles will probably pay better. That’s just because hybrids use their converters a lot less frequently, leaving them in much better condition.

  • Market prices for precious metals 

Just like any other commodity, the value of precious metals fluctuates daily. As a result, the money that a recycler might pay you for your catalytic converter might also be different from one day to another.

Head over to Carpart.com.au

If you’re looking for a company that recycles used catalytic converters, check out the Directory over at Carpart.com.au. There, you’ll be able to search for automotive recyclers and other service providers from all across Australia. The Directory also provides contact details so that you can get in touch with them to find out how much they’ll pay for recycling catalytic converters. 


By Ray Hasbollah