Hints & tips for scrap metal recycling

Updated March 23, 2017

Whether you are collecting scrap metal for income or as a hobby, understand that many lucrative scrap companies started out the same way. Collecting scrap metal pays pennies per pound, but it is not difficult to work up to weightier amounts if you know where to look for it. Keep in mind you need an area to store and sort your metal and a sturdy vehicle to haul it. You also need to make new business contacts.

Where to Look

Comb neighbourhoods and put out flyers announcing your new business. Make friends with plumbers, building contractors, roofers and electricians. Visit machine shops and service stations. In some cities, the town dump is a freebie for the scrap collector. Keep an eye out for dumpsters and large trash containers near building sites. Find out what days metals are removed and ask if you could remove them. You may even make extra cash hauling unwanted items from businesses on a regular basis. Become familiar with the different types of metals, as some bring in higher prices than others (see Resources section). Sort the scrap according to type, as recyclers pay more when it is separated.

Hefty Items Add Up Fast

Junk cars are profitable sources of scrap metal, but you need the right kind of equipment, such as a tow truck, storage yard and mobile crusher. If those things are out of reach, you can collect large appliances that you can strip and haul with nothing more than a truck or large van.

Water heaters are an easy source of metal, as many plumbers love having someone to haul them away. Although they do not pay much individually because they are mostly tin, you can accumulate them easily in lots of five or 10 at a time. Boilers, air conditioners and heaters are heavier items, sometimes weighing up to 136 Kilogram for a residential unit. They can be stripped of pricier metals, such as copper tubing and brass fittings, which can quickly add up. A large industrial boiler can weigh up to 318 Kilogram and must be dismantled for the metal recycler. Remove such things such as pressure gauges, as they can be sold in yard sales and can bring in some additional cash.

Scrap Metal Dealers

Local scrap dealers are easily found in phone books under the headings of "recycling" or "scrap metal." In addition to buying common metals such as aluminium, steel, copper, tin and iron, they also pay for hard-to-find metals like chromium, magnesium and tungsten.

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About the Author

Abaigeal Quinn works as an international entertainment broker in the United States. She is a former news editor and insurance agent who began writing for a daily newspaper in 1995.