How to Get High Demands for Scrap Metal Business

Scrap yard near me: Scrap metal is any object, appliance, or machine that is damaged or no longer useful but contains metals of some value — and many recycling facilities and scrap yards will pay good money for it (especially after a recent boost in demand from overseas). You can capitalize on this demand for scrap metal if you know where to find materials that can be sold as scrap, how to locate buyers, and how to obtain the best prices for your metal.

Scrap yard near me

Examine household items. Many ordinary items around your home can be sold for the metals they contain. For example, old Christmas tree lights contain copper; old toasters contain copper wiring and a steel body. If the metal in the item is recyclable (as most industrial metals are), it can be sold for scrap.

  • The things you are considering selling at a garage sale may actually be worth more money if you sell them for their scrap metal. This is especially true if the items no longer work properly.
  • You can avoid waste and potentially get paid more for your metal if you take off any additional nonmetal materials (such as the bulbs of a Christmas light string) before taking them in as scrap.

Scrap old or broken major appliances. If you have household appliances such as a washing machine or refrigerator that are not working, they can be sold as scrap metal. Check the government’s Energy Star website to find locations near you that specialize in recycling old appliances.

  • Some appliances (especially those with electronic components built in) might have metals inside them that are more valuable than their outer materials would suggest. Avoid being swindled by a scrap yard by disassembling appliances first to reveal internal materials.
  • Don’t forget about the copper in your appliance’s power cord! This material is valuable and should be sold separate from the appliance itself to get the biggest bang for your buck.

    Scrap yard near me

Scavenge discarded roadside items. You know that old range oven sitting in the drainage ditch that you drive past every day on your way to work? That can easily be sold as scrap metal! Even rusty, crushed items that seem like complete junk may have some value.

  • Never take items from private property or from behind fences or gates; this constitutes trespassing and theft, and you can be prosecuted for it. Only take items that are clearly not on someone else’s land.
  • Be careful not to upset any creatures that may have turned the roadside junk into a home. Snakes, bees, spiders, or rodents could be inside the item, so inspect it before picking it up and putting it inside your vehicle.

Salvage old auto parts. Car parts that are no longer usable for their original purpose can be particularly valuable because they tend to contain lots of metal.

  • Many auto parts contain multiple metal types, so take them apart if you can. This will help you separate metals of different values when taking them to the scrap yard.
  • Don’t neglect bolts, nuts, screws, and other fasteners. These may not seem like much individually, but they can really add up and boost the weight of your metal if you are disassembling a large or complicated part.

    Scrap yard near me

Save old plumbing fixtures and electrical wiring. If you are remodeling your home or refurbishing bathroom and kitchen fixtures, you might be planning to toss the old parts. Sell your old faucets, drains, pipes, and wiring at a scrap yard instead of discarding them — you might be surprised how much some of these things can get you (especially copper pipes and wires!).

  • You don’t need to clean your materials before selling them to a scrap yard, but you should clear out any pipe blockages or thick buildup; these add to the weight of the metal, and many yards will pay you less by weight if there is extra material on the sale.

Visit private sales. You may find valuable metal at yard/estate sales, home foreclosure sales, etc. Many people don’t realize how much metal can be worth. You can often find large, heavy items for next to nothing at these sales and sell them as scrap for much more than you paid for them.

  • At estate sales or other events where “everything must go,” ask the owner whether there happen to be old pipes or other scraps of metal lying around that they intend to get rid of. If so, they’ll probably let you have it for free.

    Scrap yard near me

Focus on high-value metals. In order to get the biggest payout from your scrap metal, aim to obtain metals that fetch the highest price per pound. While the market price of a given metal depends on many things, one aspect of its value comes from its level of demand. Know which metals are the real cash cows by doing some research online.

  • As with any commodity, metal’s value fluctuates in the day-to-day market. Some metals are consistently highly valued (such as copper, owing to its lossless recycling process), but can still experience variable valuation.
  • Geographical location can even factor into the going price per pound of a given type of metal. As such, when researching metal values, be sure to get information specific to your location. There are websites, updated daily, devoted specifically to scrap metal sales information.

    Scrap yard near me

Identify the metals in your scrap. If you want to know what you can expect to be paid for your scrap metal (and if you want to be able to cherry pick your scrap for the highest profit), you’ll need to learn how to identify the various metals you might encounter and can sell. Descriptions of some of the most common types are below:

  • Steel: iron-chromium alloy that is commonly found in kitchen utensils, vehicle frames, hubcaps, beer kegs, etc.
  • Brass: zinc-copper alloy found in decorative items, musical instruments, locks, and some plumbing materials.
  • Copper: reddish metal (one of the most valuable scrap metals) found in household plumbing fixtures and wiring.
  • Aluminum: lightweight metal of dull silver color found in beverage cans, some cabling, and modern vehicle bodies and parts.
  • Iron: heavy, polished, magnetic metal found in pipes, construction beams, and many automobile parts.

    Scrap yard near me

Check metal prices online. Many websites such as Kitco provide up to date market prices for a variety of industrial metals. Once you are ready to cash in on your scrap metal, check the going rate in your area for the metals you want to sell. This will help you identify and avoid facilities that might not offer as much money for your materials as you could get elsewhere.

  • Print out the market reports you find online or save the web page(s) on your mobile phone so you can reference it when you go to a scrap yard to sell your materials.
  • If you can find multiple online sources with similar metal prices, you can be that much more certain that the prices you see are realistic.

Contact multiple yards for rate quotes. Different yards may offer different prices than others for scrap metal. Call around to the scrap metal yards in your area to ask about their going rates so you can find the facility that will pay you the most money.

  • If you call a yard to ask about prices, they will likely ask you how much material you have. Be sure to have a general idea of this before making your calls.
  • When selecting a scrap metal yard to sell your materials to, consider its distance from your home. You might find that an additional 30 minutes of driving for an extra $0.01 per pound isn’t worth it, especially considering the extra gas you’ll burn hauling around heavy scrap metal!

    Scrap yard near me

Negotiate for a higher rate. Scrap metal yards usually have some wiggle room in their offering prices, but whether or not they can be convinced to give you a higher going rate than their competitors will depend partly upon how the facility sees you. Are you a repeat customer? Do you bring in a lot of material? Is your scrap well-organized? These things will influence your bargaining power.

  • Establish a relationship with one scrap metal yard if you plan to sell scrap often. If you are recognized by the owner or manager as someone who offers repeat business, you will probably be offered better prices for your scrap. You can search for scrap yards online or in your local phonebook.
  • Save your sales receipts and add up how much metal you bring in weekly, monthly, or annually to your chosen scrap yard. This information can be used to negotiate better rates if you have been going to the same yard for a while.
  • Talk to the yard owner about higher prices; ultimately, your payout will depend upon his decision. If you can continue to offer a steady flow of scrap and you’ve built a relationship with the business, your chances of being paid more will increase.

    Scrap yard near me

Accumulate a large volume of scrap before selling. Many scrap yards pay better prices for larger quantities of metal. If you can wait until you have as much metal as you can haul before selling it, you will maximize your profit.

  • Don’t wait so long that you have more metal than you can carry at once. The idea is to sell as much as possible in one transaction — so unless you can trade in all your metal together, you won’t benefit by waiting.
  • This is another way to build a strong relationship with a scrap yard; the more materials you bring it at once, the more likely the yard will be to see you as a valuable customer and someone they are willing to pay top dollar.

Separate your scrap by type. You will be paid more for your scrap metal if you keep it separated and well-organized. This means less work for the yard, so they will take this into consideration when making you an offer.

  • If you can’t completely separate each metal type, at least separate more valuable metals from less valuable ones. This way, your pricey copper won’t get lumped in with your relatively low-priced aluminum, for example.
  • Use buckets or barrels for individual types of metal to keep them separate and easily identifiable.
  • Strip as much excess, non-metal materials as possible off of your scrap. If the yard operators can see that your metal doesn’t have lots of extra weight attached to it, they will pay you more (and they will appreciate that they don’t have to strip it down themselves).

    Scrap yard near me

Keep seasonality in mind. In areas with cold climates, prices for scrap metal often increase in the winter because salvaging is more difficult and fewer people sell scrap during that time of year. Using this strategy might even fetch you more money than waiting until you have accumulated a large quantity of scrap metal.

  • In markets where scrap prices fluctuate wildly from month to month, seasonality may not play much of a role; you should assess your local market patterns to get an idea of whether cashing in during winter is likely to be more lucrative.

Obtain a vehicle for hauling scrap metal. Make sure you have access to a pickup truck or a vehicle with a large trunk or hatch for hauling your scrap. Salvaged scrap metal is often dirty, rusty, and jagged, so you probably won’t want to carry it in the backseat of a passenger car.

  • Flatbed trucks are ideal for hauling scrap metal (so long as you have a way to tie it down during transportation). With these, you don’t have to worry about damaging the floor or wall of the truck bed during loading and unloading (which is often done by crane).
  • If you will be hauling large scrap metal loads, take the weight of your cargo into consideration when choosing a vehicle. If you will be hauling multiple appliances at once, for example, you’ll need a truck that can handle the added weight during transit.

    Scrap yard near me

Weigh your vehicle. Scrap metal yards have inbound and outbound scales for vehicles bringing in recycling materials. In order to determine the weight of your scrap, you must weigh your loaded vehicle when you arrive and your empty vehicle when you have unloaded it. The difference in weight is the weight of your scrap metal.

  • These vehicle scales are usually manned by a yard worker who will record your vehicle’s weight and then give you a visual signal that you are cleared to continue on into the facility.
  • The scrap yard may have additional scales inside the facility with which individual materials can be weighed. This is necessary if you have multiple types of metals that sell at widely different rates (such as copper and aluminum).

Allow facility personnel to unload your vehicle. Scrap metal yards will unload your materials for you, but only if you have the right type of vehicle. If your materials are in the trunk of a sedan or in the back of an SUV, you will have to unload them yourself; yard workers are not allowed to unload scrap metal if the vehicle could become damaged in the process.

  • If you haul your scrap in an open trailer or truck bed, the scrap yard will likely use a magnetic crane to separate ferrous material (that which contains iron and is magnetic) from other metals.
  • If you have your material on a pallet, the scrap yard will unload it with a forklift.
  • If the yard has to sort through your scrap by hand as they remove it (in cases when materials are not already separated), they might not pay you as much as you would receive otherwise.
  • Consider lining the walls and tailgate of your pickup bed with thick blankets or padded mats to prevent potential damage from falling metal as the scrap is lifted out.
  • Separating your materials before arriving at the yard will help to prevent falling materials from damaging your vehicle, as could happen if the magnetic crane were to pick up a jumbled pile of iron and aluminum — the aluminum could fall out when it is lifted because it is not magnetic.

    Scrap yard near me

Register with the facility. Most scrap yards require you to be at least 16 years of age and to have valid photo identification in order to sell scrap to them. Some may even photograph or fingerprint you for their records. Customer information is stored in order to identify individuals suspected of selling stolen scrap metal, which is of course illegal.

  • Federal and local laws have mandated these record-keeping systems due to increasing issues with metal theft. You are legally responsible for anything you sell, so make sure it comes from a legitimate source!
  • This is a good reason to keep receipts or signed, written statements from material donors whenever you receive scrap metal from a business or individual who is the legal owner of the material. It is illegal to take materials from someone else’s property (like an abandoned building or lot) without their permission, so don’t take this lightly!

    Scrap yard near me

Get paid for your scrap metal. While scrap yards are not technically allowed to give you cash for your metal, many will provide you with a payment slip which you may then redeem at an onsite ATM to be paid in cash. Alternatively, some yards may write you a check that you will then have to cash or deposit at your bank.

  • Regardless of how you are paid for your scrap, keep all your receipts from your sales transactions. In addition to being useful for tax purposes, you can use these records to show your local yard that you are a loyal client during your negotiations for good scrap rates.

Scrap yard near me

More tips

  • Put up posters as advertisement. Be sure you write your phone number in large letters!

  • When you sell aluminum, make sure that the individual pieces are smaller than the size of a refrigerator. Aluminum goes into a smelter for processing, so if the scrap yard has to cut pieces down to size they will pay you less for them.

  • Plan to spend about an hour at the scrap yard. However, this will vary depending on how much material you have, how well sorted it is, and how busy the facility is.


Always wear thick gloves and eye protection (at a minimum) when handling scrap metal. Lots of salvaged metal is rusted, jagged, and heavy, and you could easily become injured if you attempt to handle it without adequate protection.

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