Understanding How Scrap Metal Recycling Works So You Can Prepare Materials Before Taking Them In

Posted on: 20 June 2022

A scrap metal yard that takes in materials for recycling will often accept many different materials and types of metal. Still, the goal of the scrap yard is to sell the metal back to manufacturers and processors to be reused. How the scrap metal yard is set up and operated may differ from one business to the next, but the primary function of most yards is the same, and knowing how the system works can be helpful to anyone selling scrap for profit.

Metal Recycling

You can sell many different materials at a scrap metal yard for recycling. Some are worth more than others, and how you prepare them can significantly affect the value. Ferrous metals like steel, iron, or alloys are often not as sought after because the recycling process often limits the amount of old steel that can go into new steel when it is made. 

Because the usage is lower, the demand is lower, and while you can sell these materials, you will need a lot of them to make a significant profit. Things like cars that are stripped and sold weigh a lot, so the payoff is often better, but taking a small load of loose steel to the scrap metal yard may not yield you much, so you may be better off waiting to sell it until you have a large amount. 

Non-ferrous metals are a different story because these materials can be recycled, reprocessed, and remelted without degradation of the materials or changes in their properties. Copper and aluminum fall into this category and are far more valuable than ferrous metals. Most scrap yards will pay more for the material, but the price can still change with the condition of the metal.

Scrap Preparation

When taking metal into a scrap metal yard, its condition will affect the price. For instance, if you are recycling wire, removing the coating from the wire first can change the value significantly. Copper is often one of the highest-priced metals you can recycle, but the purer the copper is, the better the price. 

Aluminum doors or windows with steel screws or rivets fall into a lower category than if you take them out and recycle just the aluminum pieces. The time you spend preparing the metal that you are recycling reduces the work that scrap metal yard has to do to the material before selling it, and as a result, they are willing to pay more for it. 

Call the scrap metal yard in your area to get the grade and pricing information for anything you will recycle before you go. Sometimes the price will drop because of the supply already on hand at the yard, so you may want to wait and sell your scrap later to get the best price, and monitoring the prices daily can help.