Everything You Need To Know About Scrap Metal Recycling

When it comes to scrap metal recycling, it can be hard to differentiate between the good information and the bad. Fortunately, Our Happy Planet is here to help answer some of the popular questions related to scrap metal recycling! We’ll look at how you can dispose of metal waste and whether or not you need a license to scrap metal, how you can separate metals for recycling, what the benefits of recycling metal are, how to separate metals for recycling, and much more, including scrap metal recycling tips and the best scrap metal items. Even better, as you know the lay of the land, you can figure out how best to scrap efficiently—and how to make good money scrap metal recycling!

How Do You Dispose Of Metal Waste – The Basics

When it’s time to dispose of metal waste, recycling scrap metal becomes an environmentally-friendly solution. In terms of energy conservation, metal recycling outperforms all other recycling types. For instance, compared to manufacturing new materials, recycling aluminum, lead, and steel saves 94, 75, and 72 percent energy respectively.

Determining your best disposal option relies on the metal type and quantity you have. Depending on the circumstance, you might recycle from home or take your waste to a scrap yard.

First, pinpoint your recyclable metals. Take aluminum cans from soda or beer; they’re 100% recyclable. Many cities or states offer recycling programs, like cash for cans, simplifying the process. Other containers, such as coffee tins and cans used for fruits and vegetables, are also recyclable once cleaned.

If you have surplus metal hangers, while not fit for your blue bin, local dry cleaners might take them off your hands. Certain household items, such as brass door handles, copper light fixtures, or aluminum siding, are recyclable. While you can’t put these in your blue bin, a local scrap yard may accept them, considering the current market conditions.

Even more, household oddities like air conditioners, television trays, and brass plumbing pipes can be scrapped. Be mindful of household hazardous waste like lead batteries or THHN cable when preparing to recycle scrap. Other items like computer scrap including CPU processor chips, memory chips, and pc boards, or even items like forklift batteries and insulated copper wire, are valuable at a scrap yard.

Furthermore, don’t forget about clean aluminum items, circuit breakers, or items containing an electric motor, like a domestic cat or a Chrysler cat. Scrap generators, clean green motherboards, and car batteries can also be sold to scrap yards.

 
Video: How Scrap Metal Recycling Is Done

10 Scrap Metal Recycling Facts

  1. Recycling a single ton of steel saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, over 1,000 pounds of coal, and 40 pounds of limestone.
  2. Steel is the most recycled material in the United States.
  3. Canned fruits and vegetables usually use steel cans; beverage cans, however, usually use aluminum cans.
  4. Aluminum cans not only require 90% less energy when recycled than in primary production, but the recycled products can be back on the shelves within 6 months. And, if for some reason they aren’t recycled, they break down in landfills far faster than plastic bottles, which may take 450 years or longer to decompose.
  5. Scrap metals can be used for construction projects, in creating transportation options such as bikes and cars.
  6. Scrap metal can also be melted at a much lower temperature than new metal, which is another way it contributes to energy savings.
  7. Enough ferrous scrap is recycled each year by weight to build the Golden Gate Bridge more than 900 times over.
  8. A typical wind turbine contains up to 5 tons of copper, an average home of 200 pounds or more, and a computer of roughly 4 pounds.
  9. Scrap metal is a huge industry; in 2015, more than 130 million metric tons of material were recycled by scrap yards.
  10. In some states, aluminum cans can make you money. Bottle bills in 10 states mean cans can be returned for a deposit, usually 5 cents per can. That adds up quickly!

Best Scrap Metal Items

Consider this, copper and bronze are your best bets when it comes to scrapping for cash. Copper, especially in the form of old cables, offers great value. Meanwhile, bronze’s density ensures that even small amounts add up quickly.

Your success, however, will hinge on how well-prepared and informed you are. Let’s talk about research. The more knowledge you gain, the stronger your negotiation position becomes. Not just in terms of calling around to compare prices and their validity period, but also in accurately identifying what you have.

For instance, the price difference between #1 and #2 copper is significant. Without the correct knowledge, you might unknowingly settle for the lesser value offered for #2 copper at a scrap yard.

Moving on, the size of your scrap load can also influence your bargaining power. The scrap yards often negotiate rates with big businesses. You stand a better chance of getting a good deal if you show up with a trailer filled with aluminum rather than a box of cans.

Moreover, take the time to sort your metals. Start by distinguishing between ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Break it down further by sorting ferrous metals like tin, lead, and steel, and non-ferrous ones like aluminum, brass, copper, and gold. You could even separate different grades of copper if you can.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of a phone call. Reaching out to various yards can help you secure the best price. And remember, bigger scrap yards aren’t necessarily better. Sometimes, smaller yards are more eager for your business. Through recycling metals, you’re also playing your part in reducing the global amount of scrap steel.

How To Separate Metals For Recycling

Of course, most scrap yards and recycling centers are going to require you to separate out the metals. One place to start is by using a magnet (no, really!). If a magnet sticks to the metal, that means the metal is ferrous. If it doesn’t stick, that means the metal is nonferrous. Ferrous metals include steel and iron; nonferrous metals include copper, aluminum, and brass.

And it just so happens that all of those metals can be valuable for scrap yards and recycling centers. From there, things depend on your local scrap yards recycling centers. A few pointers, though, may help:

  • Clean your metals. For food items, make sure that you’ve washed out the cans, etc, thoroughly. Remove labels as well. Clean metals will often get you more money, as that saves the scrap yard an extra bit of labor on their end.
  • Ensure that you don’t have other materials with your scrap metals. If, for instance, you have paper or cardboard recyclable materials in with your metals, that can sometimes lead to the entire pile being rejected.
  • Check local guidelines and scrap yard prices. Aluminum, brass, and copper are often worth a rate that can add up quickly at a scrap yard, but sometimes other metals may not be worth the effort of scrapping, in which case you should recycle as able.
  • Recycle your wiring. And while copper wiring, for instance, doesn’t have to be stripped, stripping wires before taking them to a scrap yard will often make you two or three times more money. Wire strippers can cost anywhere between $10 and $100, but are often worth the investment if you’re going to be scrapping a significant amount of wiring.

The Benefits Of Scrap Recycling Metal

Of course, there’s more to recycling metal than just selling it as scrap. For instance, as we discussed earlier: When compared to producing new materials, for instance, recycling aluminum, lead, and steel requires 94, 75, and 72 percent less energy, respectively. And the list of things that can be recycled is nearly endless!

Among other metal objects, the following are great items to consider recycling: cans (aluminum and steel), silverware, old pots and pans, appliances, desks and chairs, school and sports lockers, zippers, pipes, cables, and more. And the energy savings add up even quicker than you might think. Recycling a single aluminum can, for instance, can save enough energy to run a TV for three hours—an especially stunning piece of information when you consider that the amount of aluminum thrown away each year just in the United States would be enough to rebuild the entire commercial air fleet four times over!

Nor are the metals we use everyday limitless. Metals can be extremely energy-dependent to develop and produce, whereas recycling old metal requires just a fraction of that energy expenditure. Without recycled metal, many of our daily metal uses—including trips to school or work by bus or car, for instance—might not be affordable.

All of that is in addition to the benefit of potentially making yourself some money by scrapping money if you know what you’re doing, too!

Scrap Metal Recycling Near Me

No matter where you live, odds are good that there are places to scrap metal near you. And there are good ways to find those scrap yards; iScrap app, for instance, provides an online directory where you can find nearby scrap yards that take ferrous and non-ferrous metal. The iScrap App can also give information about scrap metal prices, and the location of scrap steel facilities that can help with electronics recycling, auto recycling, and the proper disposal of construction materials such as copper piping, aluminum, copper, and other types of scrap metal.

9 Awesome Scrap Metal Recycling Tips

Hopefully, all of this information so far is helping you determine the best ways to recycle scrap metal. Now, let’s take a look at these 9 awesome scrap metal recycling tips to maximize your efforts:

  1. Monitor metal prices online. Some metals yield higher returns than others. Be sure to do your research before sorting your metals.
  2. Recognize that while nearly all metals are recyclable, not all places accept all types. Make sure you check which types your local recycling facility or scrap yard accepts.
  3. Identify if your metal is ferrous or non-ferrous. Use a magnet for this. If the magnet sticks, it’s ferrous. If not, it’s non-ferrous.
  4. Familiarize yourself with ferrous metals such as steel and iron. They’re generally less valuable but are commonly accepted for recycling.
  5. Understand that non-ferrous metals like aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, and stainless steel can be valuable. Ensure your scrap yard is interested and you follow their rules.
  6. Find aluminum in everyday items like soda cans, doors, window frames, gutters, and siding. Although not high-value, scrap yards often buy aluminum in bulk. Since recycling aluminum uses 80% less energy, it’s definitely worth recycling.
  7. Spot brass in household items like door handles, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, and keys. Comprising copper and zinc, brass can be lucrative. While not high-priced, its weight adds up.
  8. Seek copper in air conditioners, electrical wires, gutters, and plumbing. As it’s highly valued by scrap yards, separating and stripping wires can earn you extra cash.
  9. Steel, while as common as aluminum, isn’t usually worth much unless in large quantities. But recycling steel saves significant energy, making it worth taking to a scrap yard or recycling facility.

Scrap Metal Recycling Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Sell Scrap Metal?

Your decision on which scrap metal to sell largely depends on your specific situation. Keep in mind, scrap yards offer varying prices. So, make a point to call several yards, request prices for each type of metal you possess, and ascertain how long the offered prices will hold. Be clear about the quantities you have.

While most scrap yards routinely deal with businesses handling bulk metals like construction or renovation companies, that doesn’t mean they won’t welcome you. It just means you’ll need to be diligent in your research and prepared to ask the right questions to secure the best deals. After all, many scrap yards are more than willing to purchase your scrap. By doing so, you’ll not only be earning money but also contributing to waste reduction.

Plus, some scrap yards provide pick-up services. If that’s a service you require, remember to ask for it when getting quotes and factor that into your calculations when deciding which yards to sell to.

Do You Need A License To Scrap Metal?

Scrap metal recycling offers a profitable avenue. However, in certain situations and regions, you may require a license. Let’s explore why this license is necessary.

To start, even if you’re selling a small quantity, as a scrap metal seller you might need a business license. This allows local municipalities to collect sales taxes and helps ensure legitimacy in the market, especially with theft-prone items like copper cables. To confirm if you require a license, consider contacting your local city hall or county auditor’s office.

For those operating on a larger scale, like scrap metal dealers, obtaining a business license is almost a certainty. This also applies if you run a recycling center or scrap yard involved in buying scrap and selling. In these cases, considering both a business and vendor’s license might be beneficial for compliance with local tax regulations.

Remember to consult your local authorities for any license needs for your scrapping endeavors. Also, keep an eye on market conditions and current prices. Consider maintaining a contact form with a yard near to keep updated with their needs and scrap metal pricing. This will guide you in your zero waste journey as you recycle materials ranging from bare bright wire, sheet aluminum, mcm bare bright inside, to copper tubing and insulated copper wire. This not only boosts your metal value but also supports a healthy environment.

Is It Legal To Collect Scrap Metal?

One of the most common questions regarding scrap metal recycling and the collection of scrap metal is whether or not it is legal. The short answer: It depends. The longer answer? Let’s dive in.

The scrap metal industry isn’t devoid of legal intricacies. The surge in scrap metal theft, especially high-value items like copper cables, prompted legal reinforcements to curb such actions. Here are essential considerations to keep in mind:

Large quantities of copper wires or pipes may draw attention, particularly if your occupation doesn’t justify it. If you have paperwork to validate your copper collection, it can prove useful.

In the case of air conditioner units, remember they contain freon, a hazardous substance. Scrap yards won’t accept units with freon due to environmental regulations and potential fines from the EPA. It may be prudent to collaborate with licensed HVAC contractors to drain the freon or sell the unit to them for scrapping.

Selling auto parts like catalytic converters for scrap can be tricky as some states require you to be an automotive professional. Be sure to familiarize yourself with local regulations.

In conclusion, knowledge of regulations and market conditions is key in scrap metal recycling. Stay updated with current prices for different metals like bare bright wire, mcm bare bright inside, and copper tubing, among others. Monitor buying scrap trends and maintain a contact form for easier communications with nearby yards. Following these steps can enhance your metal value, promote zero waste, and ensure legality in your recycling of scrap metal activities.

Can Computer Parts Be Recycled?

Yes, many computer parts like cpu processor chips, memory chips, and circuit breakers can be recycled. Computer wire and pc boards are also recyclable. Electronics recycling programs are designed to handle this kind of electronic waste. Don’t forget about the clean green motherboards too. They can also be valuable sources of recyclable material.

What Household Items Are Commonly Recycled?

Common household items for recycling include aluminum siding, sheet aluminum, and brass plumbing pipe. Other frequently recycled items include forklift batteries, car batteries, and even hazardous waste such as motor oil. Always remember to check with your local recycling programs or your nearby yard for their specific recycling policies.

How Can I Safely Dispose of Large Household Items like Appliances?

For larger items such as appliances, your local waste disposal service or recycling program can usually provide guidance. Items like the Chrysler cat from a car, or scrap generators, are recyclable, but due to their size or the hazardous materials they may contain, require special handling. Always follow local guidelines to ensure safe and proper disposal.

Is Aluminum Siding Recyclable?

Yes! Aluminum siding is 100% recyclable and is one of the most commonly recycled materials due to its high value. Clean aluminum is often sought after in the recycling industry due to its versatile use in new products. It’s also lightweight, making transportation to your nearest yard efficient and cost-effective.