Manufacturing champion Russell Luckock, of presswork group AE Harris in Birmingham, looks at what is going on in the scrap world.
Manufacturers using steel, and component manufacturers in particular, are enjoying a rare treat - namely a booming market for scrap steel supported by very high prices offered by producers.
Five years ago, ferrous scrap would fetch a price of £25-£27 per tonne, and as there was a surplus, your merchant would be reluctant to collect, unless it was of top quality and easily handled.
Today, David Wilson, of Birmingham scrap merchant AF Sansomes & Sons, tells me that the current demand is reflected in a price of £140 per tonne being offered, and that in the short-term, say three months or so, this will be maintained, and may even stiffen.
China and India in particular are the root cause which has led to the healthy state of the market.
Indian steel producer Tata, of Land Rover/Jaguar fame, is leading the market.
Their present demand is a major factor in the current worldwide price hike, which, hopefully, is bringing a little relief to the remaining West Midland widget producers.
In yesterday's world, steel scrap used to be shipped around the globe by bulk carrier, an exceptionally difficult commodity to handle, and somewhat dangerous if a jagged piece of metal fell from a grab when loading lorries, and at the dockside when being transferred to a ship's hold.
Today, the method of handling is switching over to containerisation, some 28 tonnes of scrap to a unit.
Should companies be able to present loaded containers to the wharf, then, the return would be something of the order of £180 per tonne, a far cry from the minuscule payback of the past, and a most welcome help to the bottom line of struggling manufacturers.
As Pacific Rim and Indian sub-continent countries increase their production, demand for all types of scrap will continue to escalate.
This will, in theory, support a continuing and increasing return for materials being recycled.
The non-ferrous scrap market is also enjoying a buoyant period for returns.
Tim Burgin, of Midland Industrial Metals, reveals that the current price for copper scrap is approximately £4,000 per tonne, with phosphor bronze not far behind on £3,800 per tonne, and brass yielding £2,500 per tonne.
These prices reflect London Metal Exchange daily fluctuations, but are currently fairly consistent.
Aluminium in scrap form will give a return of at least £1,000 per tonne, and stainless steel, say type 304 (18/8 nickel), is purchased at £1,150 per tonne .
The more exotic the material, the higher the price, with some nickel alloys fetching a princely £15,000 per tonne.
These price levels are being reflected by the manner in which even retailers are viewing scrap as a useful form of income.
An electrical goods shop in South Devon, is now stripping down televisions, washing machines and even vacuum cleaners for the various types of scrap that can be gleaned, to boost their bottom line.
This news will gladden the heart of any "green" campaigner. Council recycling depots will be able to increase returns, although I doubt if such joy will be reflected in tax bills.
However, with any good news, bad news will follow. The cost of raw material is rising across the board. Prices for steel bar and strip are rising by some £40 to £80 per tonne this month, and another jump is being forecast for May of a percentage yet to be determined.
This will be reflected in most metal-based commodities sold in the high street, and will do absolutely nothing to help Prime Minister Gordon Brown's target of two per cent inflation, which is becoming more of a pipedream as each day passes.
Nevertheless, for the moment, the component supplier has a little help, if short term, for which he or she will be most grateful.