How to Collect Scrap Metal

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Collecting and recycling scrap metal can be an excellent way to make a little extra money. As a hobby, it can be as simple as stopping by the road to pick up some scrap wire or a hubcap that someone has lost. As a business, it has large growth potential and a low barrier to entry. In other words, it's an easy business to start.

Things You'll Need

  • Truck
  • Work gloves
  • Storage space
  • Know the types of scrap metals that are in demand and can be sold as scrap. Common types of scrap metals that are sought after are: aluminum, brass, bronze, copper, inconel, nickel, silver, stainless steel, titanium and tungsten.

  • Understand that it doesn't take a huge amount of effort to build up a pile of scrap metal. For instance, it would take a long time to accumulate 75 pounds of aluminum cans, which is worth just over $20 at the current rate of 27 cents per pound for aluminum. But if you found your 75 pounds of aluminum as discarded scrap on a construction site where aluminum gutters were being installed, you would earn $20 for the 10 minutes it takes to load up your find.

  • Train your eye. As you get involved in the scrap business, your eye will become attuned to finding scrap metal as you go about your daily business. Pretty soon, you'll be finding scrap metal everywhere: discarded car batteries, pipes, copper tubing, sinks and aluminum storm doors.

  • Offer to remove "junk" scrap metal from businesses keen to get rid of it. Talk to local plumbers, for instance. They are constantly encountering old boilers, furnaces or water heaters. Call all the plumbers in the area and offer to dispose of such things for a modest fee. That way you get paid twice.

  • Call your local municipality and find out the dates when they will be coming to remove bulky items like sofas and refrigerators. Then drive around early on the morning of the collection and check out the piles of trash. This is a rich source of scrap metal, and you might find other items you can sell or recycle, such as a kitchen sink.

  • Develop a system to sort and store the metals by type on your property in an out-of-the-way corner. Store each type of metal in a separate stack.

  • When you have enough scrap to sell, find local scrap metal dealers by looking in the local yellow pages or on the Internet.

Tips & Warnings

  • To avoid being ripped off, check international prices of scrap metal on the Internet (see Resources section). The prices you get locally will be less, but how much less depends on which local scrap dealer you do business with. By knowing the international prices, you will at least be able to tell which dealers are treating you fairly.

References

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