Converter Recycling: Playing the Long Game

A Historical Perspective
Nearly thirty years ago I started my career as a Customer Service Representative at Putman Investments in Boston. The Gulf War was in full swing. Like life in the time of COVID-19, the world was on shifting sand. In handling calls, we were trained to calm investors’ fears and remind them that mutual funds were a long-term investment, five to ten years. It was best not to change course and become reactionary.

Today, my advice to you is the same with converter recycling and precious metals sales. Play the long game. Look at the Platinum Group Metals over the past 10 years. We have experienced more than one deep recession. See also light duty vehicle sales from 1978-2019.

Converter Averages: Today, 2 Months Ago, 22 Months Ago
Look at these converter averages and average price per pound today versus two months ago and twenty-two months ago. Remember these are random samples from recycling data across North America in USD. (Data: United Catalyst Corporation). In the past 22 months converter averages enjoyed an 83% increase while giving up 32% in recent months. Still values are almost double what they were nearly two years ago.

An Important Source of Cash Flow
Amidst COVID-19, with lower new car sales, corrections in precious metal pricing, and supply and demand coming into equilibrium, the revenue from converter recycling remains steady and important to recyclers. Precious metals mining and refining has not been left unscathed. There have been some mine closings in South Africa, some smelters and trade desks that are not taking bids or receiving material due to lack of liquidity, staff reductions, and smelting/refining capacity issues. Fortunately, the slower turn times are offset by the steady values recyclers can count on flowing into their companies from converter and precious metal sales.

One Way. Assay.
Assay-based selling with a process, a program, and a partner you can trust (and verify) is the only way to maximize the money you get for your cats with any certainty.

There is more than one way in life to do most things. This is not true with converter recycling. There is a specific amount of precious metals in each converter. There is a cost to recycle it. There is a price for each metal that is sold. You’re either in the real game or you are not.

The 4 P’s 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 3 months to get paid. With most processors, you have payment choices like the ones mentioned above. A Partner. 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.

Remember, keep selling into the market on assay. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Play the long game.

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