Continuing Your Education

Converter Processor, Smelter, and Refiner? Does It Matter To Me?

Our mantra at United Catalyst Corporation is Getting You the Most from Your Converters with A Process You Can Trust. It is more than a slogan. It is our mission. It is our brand promise. It is what gives our work meaning. Every article I write is committed to educating you so that you can never be taken advantage of when it comes to selling scrap catalytic converters.

Get All the Money from Your Converters
How much money do you want from your converters? Your answer should be, all of it. How do you get all the money from your converters? Sell them on Assay or recovery (An assay is a test result from a sample that, if done correctly, yields the highest result.) With most converter processing companies you can take an early payment in the first week and the balance in 30 – 45 days once the assay or test results are known.

Converter Processor, Smelter, and Refiner? What does it matter to me?
Many of you ask us, aren’t you the refiner? The answer is, no. Most of us that you as recyclers work with are converter processors, some are converter collectors. So, what is the difference? Why does it matter to me?

Lesson #1: There is only one way to recycle a scrap catalytic converter. It must be de-canned, milled, sampled, assayed, smelted, and refined. More importantly, there is a recycling cost associated with each of those steps. Whether you sell the converter whole or on assay, it costs to recycle it. Just like the build sheet on a car, you see the price you pay, but not the individual price of all the components. If you want to see all the charges broken out, ask. A good processor will show you.

Lesson #2: There are only a handful of end-refiners in the world. There are companies that collect converters. There are companies that process (de-can, mill, sample, assay) converters. There are companies that smelt the de-canned catalyst into a collector metal. Finally, there are companies that refine the smelted collector metal into platinum, palladium, and rhodium. A few companies do both, smelt and refine.

Lesson #3: Which of these companies should you work with? The answer is simple. You should work with the company that can give you the most from your converters with a process you can trust, verify, and understand. In the end, that will be the company that returns highest metal value with the lowest processing and refining charges or recycling costs. The company you choose should be willing to show you what 100% of the value of your converters is and what percent you keep in a condensed or expanded invoice. A company that provides you with the 4 Ps of Converter Recycling Profitability.

The 4 Ps of Converter Recycling Profitability
In recent articles I have written that you need a Process, a Program, and a Partner you can trust, and you need to learn the Power of Education. A Process. You can sell on assay instead of selling by the piece. You will need to be paid on a sample and assay that are official, accurate, and verifiable.
A Program. You need to be able to get money when you need it to run your business. Getting you the most money from your converters shouldn’t mean you have to wait until you have a truckload or can hold out for three months to get paid. With most processors, you have payment choices like the ones mentioned above. A Partner. Selling on assay or recovery helps to eliminate that problem because there is a test result that can be considered the basis for the sale.

However, even with this method, working with a Partner you can trust cannot be overstated. The Power of Education. We take a complex process and try to make it understandable and easy to use. We know that once you learn about your converters and your yard profile, you will increase your profits, and no one will ever be able to take advantage of you again.

To learn more about selling converters on assay or to read other articles in this series, please email me at or call us at 864-834-2003.

Becky Berube serves the recycling community as President of United Catalyst Corporation, Co-Chair of the Automotive Recycling Association’s Events Advisory Committee, and is an ExCom Board Member of the International Precious Metals Institute.
She can be reached at 864-834-2003 or by email at