Converter Recycling: A 2021 New Year’s Revolution

Everyone is going to be looking to bounce back economically from 2020 and selling the precious metals in your converters on assay is a superb way to accomplish that.

Selling on Assay. What You Give is What you Get.
The best part of selling converters on assay is that whatever precious metals are in your converters is what you get paid on. If done correctly, by the generally accepted scientific method, you receive the most you can from your converters. If the process and your partner are trustworthy; and the results of the assay can be verified by a third party; and the processing and refining charges are reasonable; and the market prices you sell the metals on are accurate and not too deeply discounted; you will receive the most you can expect from your scrap catalytic converters. This is how you as a recycler benefit and participate in the sale of your commodity. Grading scams, two-for-one sales, and halving-you-to-death is easily avoided.

On the other hand, it is important to note, that with assay what you give is what you get. In other words, if you purchase cars that have lower precious metals loadings or you sell-off higher value converters for cash and only process low grade material, your assay results will only yield what you put in. For instance, if you process a batch of converters that you know have an average street value of $100, don’t expect a $200 average. It is common sense. You can expect more on assay, some recyclers report 5 -45% more; however, this will depend on the metals contained in the converters you process and how you have been treated by your buyer historically.

Selling Metal as a Strategy.
Street prices for catalytic converters should reflect the Platinum Group Metals (PGM) market prices for Platinum, Palladium, and Rhodium and the PGM content of each of the converters being sold. Some price lists are solely based on the regional and national competition of converter buyers. The accuracy to the actual refined value of the converters on the list can get diluted or exaggerated based on competition and false-leader-converters (like large GMs or Honda O2 slants) tactics on the street. Again, with assay-based selling, you can avoid the scams and tricks being perpetrated on recyclers.

Selling converters on assay is like investing in stocks or bonds. It can be risk neutral if you employ a dollar-cost-averaging strategy. You keep processing converters on your sales cycle, and you keep selling metal into the market. Regardless of the market highs or lows, you will end up receiving the yearly average for the metals. Playing the market, waiting for the metals to go higher before hedging or selling, is speculating. This, too, is a strategy. If you choose to speculate, make sure you can afford to lose as well as gain. Either way you choose to sell metal, locking and selling as you go or holding and selling at a future date, know that you are trading the physical contents of your converters

Platinum, Palladium, and Rhodium Prices and Demand are at Historical Highs.
The macroeconomic and technical factors that affect the price of precious metals are positive for the foreseeable future. This does not mean that a reversal of conditions cannot happen quickly and change this report in an instant. Economically speaking, low to negative interest rates, the expectation of future inflation, and the weakening of the US dollar against other world currencies bode well for the non-yielding assets like the PGM metal complex. The one thing the pandemic has done is to balance the surplus and deficit of the three metals. From a supply and demand perspective, even with the diminished auto demand during the pandemic, and regardless of a V-shaped or W-shaped recovery, investment and industrial demand for the metals continues to be strong. Bloomberg recently reported that the sale of hybrid vehicles is outpacing the sale of electric vehicles and that this trend is expected to continue. This
is positive for PGMs since catalytic converters on hybrid
cars use more PGMs than traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles due to the frequency of cold starts and more than electric vehicles (EV) which have no catalytic converters. EVs are positive for Platinum which is used heavily in fuel cells.

Education is Key.
Your mission, should you decide to accept the challenge of selling your converters on assay, is to become an educated seller. Educated on the process. Educated on the markets and the factors that affect PGM metal markets. At United Catalyst Corporation not only do we get recyclers the most from their converters with a process they can trust, but we also educate recyclers so they can never be taken advantage of again.

If you want to get and stay educated, you can subscribe to our daily e-newsletter, or get Platinum Group Metal prices texted twice daily to your phone, TEXT Daily to 864-834-2003. You can also call us or email us at

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