How to Make Money Recycling Metal

It's possible to make money recycling scrap metal.
It's possible to make money recycling scrap metal. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Whether you’re looking for a way to earn some extra money to supplement your income or to replace your paycheck, recycling scrap metal is an ideal way to accomplish your goal. Some scrap metal recyclers collect and sell metal part time, while others have turned metal recycling into their full-time job. Collecting and selling scrap metal does not require any special skills. With a bit of time to invest, you can make money recycling metal.

Let others know that you will pick up scrap metal for free. Have some business cards made and look for opportunities to distribute them. Place ads in the newspaper and online to advertise your services. People often don’t associate certain items with scrap metal. Let people know that you will pick up old and broken appliances, junk cars, water heaters, pieces of metal pipe and iron furniture.

Drive around your town. Look for houses with broken appliances, junk cars, old bicycles, metal sheds, aluminum lawn chairs, swing sets and other metal items on the porch or in the yard. Offer to haul junk away for free. Take the junk to the scrap yard and turn it into cash.

Create a vendor list. Some scrap yards only process specific types of metals, while others will take any type of metal. Call scrap yards in your area. Make a note of the type of metals that each recycling center will take.

Find out whether the scrap yard will take the item as is or whether you have to dismantle the item, such as an appliance.

Designate a place where you can place and sort any metal items you pick up. Another option is to take your load directly to the scrap yard. This way you don’t have to worry about finding a place to store the metal.

Take your load of scrap metal to the scrap yard. Expect scrap yard associates to weigh your metal. You will receive payment on a per-pound basis.

Keep good records of your earnings for tax purposes. Keep track of your mileage. The Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct the mileage when you use your vehicle for business purposes. Consult your tax preparer to see if you qualify.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep records of your earnings and mileage for at least four years after the tax is paid or becomes due, whichever is later, according to the IRS.
  • Secure the load on your truck or trailer to prevent an accident.
  • Exercise caution and be discreet if you decide to drive through your neighborhood looking for junk metal items. Never enter a garage or a homeowner's backyard without first contacting the homeowner.

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