When I was a teen, my mom and I would sometimes get up early and go out in her station wagon looking for scrap metals. Some days we made just enough money to cover the gas and buy some food. Other days, we made several hundred dollars in a just a few hours of work. That was really good money back then!
People who were familiar with us would set their scrap metals aside for us. Sometimes, we’d go about the community with plastic bags and a shopping cart looking for metals. Even some friendly business owners and auto mechanics would give my mom some of the metal parts that they no longer needed. My father also used to scrap some of the metal left over from construction jobs that he did back then.
There were some who would judge and make fun of us. But, most of the times we got the last laugh after selling the metal at the scrap yard. And, who are they to judge? Like Tupac said, “Only God can judge me.” The way that I see it is that scrapping metals is beneficial to the environment. Why not make some extra cash while helping to clean up the community and conserve some energy and resources?
Years later, I still save scrap metals but I do it on a small scale. A few times a week I drive or walk around in my community to look for scrap metal. I am simply amazed at the good useable things that people throw out. Maybe, they are too lazy or busy to drive down to a church or donate it to charity.
They are essentially wasting energy and throwing away money without thinking about it. Some people aren’t aware that the waste management companies have entire departments of employees who sort through much of the trash for material that can be recycled. They try and salvage as much recyclable material as possible to keep it from ending up in the landfill. At the same time, they are making the money off of it.
If I had a trailer and a pickup truck and more help, I’d be able to haul in more stuff to recycle and sell. I am also limited by the amount of storage space that I have. Every time I drink a beverage or use foods from a metal can, I set it aside to recycle. After family get-togethers I collect as much aluminum as I can. 33 aluminum cans equals about 1 pound. All of those individual containers eventually add up.
I know a number of fellows who make a full-time income from scrapping metals. Some of them either could not find a job or didn’t want to work for someone else. They are professionals who use a full set of tools and the whole nine-yards for their business.When you get to the point where you do this professionally, you will be issued a 1099 by the scrap yards that you deal heavily with.
Some professional scrappers do bulk scrap hauls and pick up unwanted stuff from people’s homes. They keep the things that are still functional and resell them on Craigslist or eBay. The broken stuff they find, may be disassembled for the scrap metal and working parts. It is hard work and can be quite physical but can be lucrative for people who aren’t afraid to hustle.
If you are thinking about making some extra money scrapping and recycling metals, here are some suggestions:
Never, enter private property to remove scrap metals without permission. When in doubt, knock on the door and ask the property owner if it is okay to take what you want. Otherwise, you could be arrested and charged with trespassing and theft. Be wary of dumpster-diving for metals because it is illegal in some cities. Know the local ordinances of the municipality where you look for metals.
You won’t have to go very far to find scrap metal as it is abundant in your local community. You can easily find aluminum cans and other scrap metals strewn roadside.
Keep a good pair of gloves, some pliers, screwdrivers and wire cutters with you. You may need some other good tools like a vice grip, wire-strippers and saw, depending on the level of scrapping you plan on doing.
Carry a magnet around to test for ferrous vs. non-ferrous metals. Aluminum for example, is a non-ferrous metal and it does not stick to a magnet. Most non-ferrous metals have a higher spot value than ferrous metals. Whereas you’d probably make about $.45 a pound on aluminum, you’d only get about $.07 a pound on shred steel (give or take a few pennies).
Separate and strip your metals (if possible) before you get to the scrap yard. You get more money for clean metals. Some metals cost more than others. Copper and brass are more desirable (and valuable) metals than aluminum and steel. So, you’ll want to make sure that the metals are properly separated out.
Tips before going to the scrap yard:
If possible weigh out all of your metals. Scrap yards pay sellers based on the weight and the current price of the metal. By knowing weights and prices of metals ahead of time, you will be able to better calculate how much money you will make from a sale. It will also reduce the chances of getting ripped off by unscrupulous scrap yards owners. Most businesses are fair in their dealings with sellers but there are some who will take advantage of naivety and ignorance.
Metal prices vary according to the scrap yard and the prices of each metal fluctuates daily. Check with the scrap yard on what prices they pay for the metals that you want to sell. Shop around to get the most money for what you sell.
The scrap yard workers may ask for your government issued I.D. and a finger print. There has been a rise in people stealing A/C units, electrical wiring and other metals. This is to deter people from stealing metal and bringing it to scrap yards. So, the government and law enforcement is cracking down.
There are other things that can be recycled and sold at scrap yards that people don’t typically think about:
Parts from old T.V.s and computers (PC chips, motherboards, heat sinks, etc.)
Electrical cords and cables
Plugs- metal prongs
Insulated and clean copper wire
Metal from old appliances
Metals found in windows, screens and doors
Old metal furnishings
Broken light fixtures
Old rusting tanks and canisters
Old keys, locks and door handles
Old metal fencing and sheds
And much more- think outside the box!!!