Converter Recycling Technology: Why do Apps Vary so Much?

2021 Technology Trend
It is 2021 and technology is the trend for all areas of our lives. Why should converter recycling be any different? Based on how you sell your scrap catalytic converters, by the piece or on assay, you may be looking at various converter apps to determine the value of your individual converters or total load. But why, if all these applications are built on science and the true value of the metals contained inside, do the values vary so much?

Lost Leaders
You have likely been in the business long enough to remember it. When all you cared about was the price of a large GM. Eventually you learned the game. That the large GM and the exotic converter were the lost leaders. If you got the prices you wanted for those two units, the rest of the lot was a fire sale. Selling like this has gone on for years. And it is still happening. Take the Honda O2 slant as an example. On paper or in an app, these units can be shown at a higher than market value to make the recycler sell the rest of the load. The technology may have changed, but the game has not.

Hidden Margins
No matter how you get prices for units, digitally or on paper, the true value can still be unknown to you due to built-in margins. Does anyone show the 100% value of the metal contained in the converter less the processing and refining charges? Is it 5%, 15%, 30%? Having a built-in margin on an app is not a crime, but it does make comparing apps and trying to determine a fair price difficult. Transparency remains an issue.

2012 Bringing Assay to the Street
In 2012, we at United Catalyst Corporation brought small lot assaying of scrap catalytic converters to individual recyclers. Other companies followed suit. Today many of you have tried or are now selling on assay or the scientific method. Your testimonies of increased value to your peers and to us resound loud and clear.

But what if none of these processes produces top dollar, how would you know?

Selling by the piece. Subjective.

Selling by physical or electronic bid. Not verifiable. Lost leaders.

Selling by serial number or app. Not transparent. Lost leaders.

Selling on assay. Could be manipulated.

Mass Balances and Verified Assay are a Must
Selling on assay with refining terms is the best way to recycle scrap catalytic converters. In fact, it is the only way to recycle a converter. It happens once it leaves your facility whether you sell it this way or not. The trick to selling on assay is fourfold: Knowing the actual count including halves so that you can know your true average. Mass balancing all weights including shipping materials, scrap, catalyst, and dust. Scientifically accurate sampling collection to produce the sample of record from the refiner or a third-party lab. Verified assay results from the end refiner or third-party lab. Make sure you get paid on the “official assay of record” and make sure the assay results can be verified by a third party. Without one of these four aspects being true and accurate, you are sure to be leaving money on the table even when selling on assay, never mind when selling by the piece or on auction or with an app.

2021 Bringing Transparent Converter Recycling Tools to Market
At United Catalyst Corporation we are on a mission to deliver recycling solutions that generate more profits for the companies that work with us. We accomplish this through serving the needs of our clients with accurate, reliable, and scientific processes. We strive to uphold the highest ethical standards displayed in our core values and operational practices. We are working diligently to bring you some new digital tools that will help you do just this, increase your profits. Stay tuned for more information or call us to be a part of the development and implementation phase.

If you have questions about this article or any issue pertaining to catalytic converter recycling, we, at United Catalyst, are here to help you. Recycling converters on assay is a journey. We hope you will rely on us at United Catalyst to be your guide.

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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