Scrap Metal Recycling by State

There is money to be made by scrapping metal. For some, scrapping metal is a way to add an extra, supplemental income stream. For others, it’s how they make their living. In either case, it’s important to understand how to do it legally, in compliance with state laws and the requirements of the scrap yards that can turn the scrap metal you collect into money in your pocket.

Every state has its own statutes governing the scrap metal industry and scrap metal recycling in the state. The intent of these state laws is to protect scrap yards and their customers against unknowingly purchasing stolen materials or being falsely accused of wrongdoing.

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Common State Laws for Scrap Metal Recycling

All 50 states have laws that scrap yards must abide by when purchasing metals from scrappers. When scrap yard personnel require you to show identification or enforce other rules, it’s not to make things difficult for you. It’s usually because that’s what it takes for them to operate in compliance with the law.

The most common legal requirements are summarized below.

Payment Restrictions

Typically, scrap yard operators are required to pay for the metal scrap they purchase by check, not cash. And they are required to hold payments for a certain number of days. You may have to go back to the scrap yard to collect your check a couple of days after selling a load of scrap metal.

Seller Identification

Scrappers may have to show a government-issued photo ID card and allow a copy to be made for the scrap yard’s records. Some states require fingerprints from those selling scrap metal to a scrap yard.

Photos and Videos

In some states, scrap yards must take and retain photographs and/or video recordings of customers, their vehicles, and the materials they are selling.

Vehicle Identification

It’s also common for scrap yards to be required to record the license plate numbers and descriptions of the vehicles that scrappers are driving when they bring in scrap metals to sell.

Seller’s Signature

Additionally, scrap yards are often required to obtain a signature from scrappers for each transaction, confirming that the seller is the rightful owner of the scrap materials sold.

State Examples

Take a look at the scrap metal recycling laws in a sampling of states. There may be additional requirements beyond the ones listed here.

Arizona

  • Payment by non-transferable check mailed to the address on the scrapper’s state ID
  • Fingerprint of scrapper’s right index finger
  • Photos and/or video recording of scrapper and materials sold
  • Photocopy to be made of scrapper’s photo ID and retained on file
  • Scrapper’s license plate number and vehicle description to be kept on file
  • Law enforcement can require tagging and retention of materials for 15 days
  • Scrap yard must contact Public Safety and upload receipt electronically within 24 hours of purchasing scrap metals

Colorado

  • Payment by check for commodity metals sales of $300 or more (cash if under $300)
  • Photo/video of scrapper and materials to be kept on file
  • Photocopy of scrapper’s driver’s license to be kept on file
  • Scrapper’s license plate number and vehicle description to be kept on file
  • Signed affidavit confirming scrapper’s ownership of materials being sold

Iowa

  • Payment by check or electronic funds transfer for sales over $50
  • Photocopy of scrapper’s driver’s license to be kept on file
  • Records of all transactions retained for a minimum of 12 months

Ohio

  • Photo/video of scrapper and materials to be kept on file
  • Photocopy of scrapper’s driver’s license to be kept on file
  • Scrapper’s license plate number and vehicle description to be kept on file
  • Signage stating consequences of scrappers falsifying identification must be posted
  • Scrap yards must maintain all transaction records for at least 12 months

South Carolina

  • Payment by cash or check after 3-day waiting period
  • Photocopy of scrapper’s state-issued ID card to be kept on file
  • Transaction records to be retained for a minimum of 5 years

Texas

  • Cash transaction card is issued to any scrapper selling regulated materials if paid by cash or debit card
  • Fingerprinting of scrapper
  • Photo of scrapper’s face and video surveillance of transaction
  • Photocopy to be made of scrapper’s photo ID and kept on file
  • License plate number and vehicle description to be kept on file
  • All transactions must be reported to the state within 2 days

Although meeting requirements such as these may seem burdensome, they are for the protection of all parties involved in scrap metal recycling. And in any states, certain identification requirements (such as fingerprinting and photocopying of a state-issued ID) only apply to the initial transaction with a scrapper new to a particular scrap yard. For subsequent transactions, scrappers need only produce an ID for verification of their name and address.

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