I spent the better part of my day helping clear out years-old permanent wiring from a datacenter cage out of which my company was moving. After reclaiming patch cables suitable for reuse, we wound up with a 380 pound (172 Kg) pile of cabling. (I'm sorry I neglected to take photos.) Wanting it not to go entirely to waste, we dumped it in the back of my Tacoma and drove to a metals recycling center in the area. We figured it was a convenient way to get rid of the mess, and maybe we'd make some lunch money.
We sold it for $388. That's over a dollar per pound!
Copper prices have been soaring in recent years due primarily to ever-increasing demand from electronics manufacturers. The raw material currently sells for around $3.40 per pound, more than three times its price just ten years ago. In fact, metal theft has become a growing problem affecting a number of industries including telecommunications.
Encouraged, we loaded up a second haul, this time consisting entirely of excess power cables. Power cables have a tendency to accumulate over the years because even as obsolete equipment is liquidated, people will hang onto the associated power cables as they can typically be reused. Of course, nearly every new device ships with its own new power cable(s), so we end up swimming in the things. Here's what 431 pounds (195 Kg) of power cables looks like:
Profit: $235. The payout for power cables isn't as high as twisted-pair cabling since a greater portion of the gross weight belongs to the plastic insulation surrounding the valuable copper inside (and presumably because many power cables aren't pure copper), but that's still a good chunk of change.
The lesson here is to never throw out old cabling: Recycle it. Not only is it better for the environment and economy, you can make a few bucks for very little effort. We took our two loads to Potomac Metals in Sterling, Virginia. The facility is arranged so that you drive into their garage and offload whatever you're dropping off into a bin. They weigh the filled bin and print you a receipt, which you then scan at a machine resembling an ATM and collect your cash. Then you drive right on out. We spent fewer than five minutes of our time per load.
This particular recycling chain operates primarily in the Northern Virginia area, but you should be able to easily locate a similar company in your region. Many city and county governments also provide recycling services, though they are less likely to pay cash for materials.