How is Scrap Metal Recycled?

Municipal Recycling

Most municipalities now have mandatory recycling or robust voluntary recycling programs. But relatively few of them provide curbside collection for metal recyclables other than aluminum drink cans and metal food cans. Some cities maintain a central drop-off point for recyclables, including metal items.

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Selling Scrap Metal

Many people have discovered they can supplement their income by collecting scrap metal and selling it to one of the many scrap metal dealers for cash. Those dealers, in turn, either recycle the scrap metal they’ve acquired, or sell it to other companies that recycle it. There are few recyclable materials that are as valuable or as plentiful. Take a walk through your home and look for things made of metal that you eventually will want to get rid of. You’ll be surprised at how much of it there is, from appliances to aluminum cans, to that broken ironing board, to metal coat hangers.

Can I Make Money by Selling Scrap Metal?

Scrap metal is one of the few categories of recyclables for which there is a readily accessible market in most areas. Scrap metal dealers usually pay by the pound for the metal they purchase.

Why Is Scrap Metal Valuable?

Metal ores are scarce resources, and extracting them from the earth is an expensive proposition. And mining metal ore has a high environmental impact. The world’s supply of nonferrous metals like copper, aluminum, iron, and zinc is dwindling, which makes recycling of scrap metal both necessary and financially rewarding. Nonferrous scrap (any metal scrap other than iron or steel) accounts for only 10% of all materials (metal and non-metal) recycled in the United States, but produces more than 50% of all revenue from scrap recycling. Nonferrous metals are worth more than ferrous metals because they can only be mined, not manufactured.

Who Buys Scrap Metal?

There are scrap metal dealers in most areas who purchase metal items that they either process for resale to a recycler or recycle themselves on their own premises. You should be able to find the ones closest to your location through a simple online search. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) certifies scrap metal recyclers and maintains a searchable directory of certified recyclers.

Are There Any Rules I Should Know About?

Most state and local governments have laws regulating the sale of scrap metals to help prevent the theft of items that could have cash value as scrap. For example, in many jurisdictions, payment for scrap metal purchases must be in the form of a check. In some jurisdictions, there is a mandatory waiting period between the date that scrap metal is sold and the date that the dealer sends payment via the United States Postal Service. Sellers typically must present identification and may also be photographed for the dealer’s records.

It makes sense to call your chosen scrap metal dealer before your first visit to find out if there is a minimum quantity requirement and if there are any state or local rules, you need to be aware of.

How Do I Prepare Scrap Metals for Recycling?

In general, a product must be made of at least 50% metal to sell it as scrap metal. In preparing materials to take to a scrap metal dealer, it’s best to remove nonmetal components. You may also want to remove small metal components from products that are largely nonmetal and save them until you have accumulated enough to warrant a trip to the scrap metal yard.

It’s also a good idea to separate ferrous from nonferrous metals, as someone will weigh separately them at the scrap metal yard. To do this, touch a magnet to each item; if it sticks, the metal is ferrous.

How Is Scrap Metal Processed?

Not all scrap metal dealers complete the recycling process on their own premises. Some act as middlemen and resell the metal scrap they have purchased to a company that handles metal recycling from A to Z.

The recycling process begins by separating the different metals by type. The separated metals are then crushed and compacted. After nonmetal components have been removed, everything else is melted in a furnace and the liquid metal is poured into sheets. The recycled metal can then be used in the manufacturing of new metal products.

Contact RepurposedMATERIALS today to find out how we can help you find a new home for the unwanted materials.