How Should I Prepare Scrap Metal for Recyclers?

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Selling scrap metal and other recyclables can be a lucrative pastime. Even if you are not in the construction business, there are many ways to gather up scrap metal and turn it into cash at a recycling center or scrapyard. Metals like copper, iron and steel return the highest prices, but aluminum and other scrap metal can add up to extra money. It's easy to prepare your scrap metal for the trip to the recycling center.

  • Separate your scrap metal into different containers based on the type. Keep aluminum cans, aluminum siding, copper tubing, general wires and appliances separate. While the scrapyard may do this for you, doing it yourself expedites the process and ensures that you get the right price for your scrap. If you have too much scrap to separate, at least keep the ferrous (iron products) and nonferrous metals separate.

  • Remove trash, debris and dirt from the scrap metal. When separating the materials, toss out plastic, wood or other materials that are not metal. Remember, you can still recycle paper, glass and plastic, but you may not get much for them.

  • Remove plastic, wood or other nonmetal parts of household appliances like toasters, irons and refrigerators. Be careful with components of appliances that may contain hazardous chemicals, like the pumps and coils of refrigerators and air conditioning units.

  • Use a hand-held or mechanical wire stripper to remove insulation from electrical wiring. Some scrapyards will do this for you or accept insulated wiring, but check with them before you go.

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  • Photo Credit scrap yard image by hazel proudlove from Fotolia.com
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