Make Money Scrap Metal Recycling

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One of the ways we’ve been able to make a good bit of additional income with our business is through scrap metal recycling. So today, we are going to share a basic overview of how to make money with scrap metal for those of you who may be interested.

How Much Money Can I Make Selling Scrap Metal?

How Much Money Recycling Scrap Metal
How Much Money Recycling Scrap Metal

One of the first questions people ask about selling scrap metal, is just how much money can I make with scrap metal recycling? While it of course naturally will depend on what types of metals you collect, where you live, and the current scrap metal prices, we have found you can earn anywhere from $50 to well over $800 in a single day.

There are a lot of ways to maximize your earnings potential, as well as make the most out of your time so that you don’t have to work as much or as hard to earn the income you want. Truly, what you earn would be up to you – it’s all about how much metal you collect and how you process it.

Maybe the best part of having a scrap metal recycling business isn’t so much the money, but also knowing you are helping your neighbors and community, taking care of the earth, and having total flexibility and control over your schedule! You don’t have to sit in rush hour traffic for 2 hours every morning or have to dress up in some stuffy business suit – you can relax, chill out, and get a good workout in the process too!

The bottom line is this: You can really earn a lot of cash recycling scrap metal if you take the time to learn the tips and tricks of the trade. If you learn the best ways of collecting scrap metal, processing and sorting the metals, and how to most effectively sell what you have – you will see very quickly how scrap metal can help you not only pay the bills but give you the opportunity to work for yourself and be your own boss.

Here’s a Quick Overview of How to Make Money With Scrap Metal Recycling

Step 1: Collect Scrap Metal & Other Items

Scrap Metal is any type of metal that you can recycle or sell at the scrap yard. There are all sorts of different types of metals, and some metals are more valuable than others – copper, brass, aluminum, and stainless steel generally are worth more than various mixed metals.

You can find scrap metal pretty much anywhere around your house – go through and look for things you no longer want or need. You can also ask friends, family members, and neighbors if they might have anything they’d like to get rid of – this helps them clear out the clutter and you can make some money selling it.

If you are planning on doing scrap metal recycling professionally, it is a good idea to at the very least have a truck or reliable vehicle and make sure you check in with your local state and county’s business regulations to make sure you are compliant with all of the applicable laws for where you live. The advantage to this of course is you can also advertise scrap metal collection services.

It’s also very important that you store your scrap metal in a safe place where it won’t be a nuisance to neighbors or attract wildlife that may want to live in your scrap metal pile. Usually, an old shed, garage, barn, or even just covering it up with a tarp is a good practice. Make sure you check with any local ordinances that you need to follow, especially if you are scrapping from home in a residential area.

Step 2: Sort & Process Your Materials

It’s very important when you go to the scrapyard that you process and sort your materials.

Many items you’ll come across as you scrap more will have multiple types of metal – if you really want to get the best price for your metal it is crucial to really take it apart. For example, you can take apart old electronics and sort them into wires, copper, and mixed metals. This way, you get paid for the copper and wire separately and make more from those than you would if they were all just mixed shredder metals.

It’s helpful to keep different buckets for sorting if you have the space to do so – this will allow you for example to have one container for aluminum, one for copper, one for stainless, one for wire, one for mixed shredder metals, etc.

Step 3: Prepare for Visiting the Scrap Yard

Most cities and towns have at least one scrap yard, if not several. It can sometimes be helpful to call ahead to see what prices each yard offers, but we’ve found in our experience it’s usually most efficient to go to the one closest to you after you factor in hidden costs like gas and driving time.

Most scrap yards require that you have a government-issued ID card, such as your driver’s license or a military ID – this is generally only for tax purposes for the scrap yard with the IRS, as well as to help ensure and discourage illegally stealing metal {ie: going into abandoned houses and stealing copper pipes or air conditioners}.

They may also have you fill out a form with your vehicle’s information, such as the license plate number, make and model.  It can vary greatly between the different scrap yards, as well as the local state and county jurisdiction on what might be required. Either way – bring your ID and be prepared!

The other thing you will want to do is have all of your metals pre-sorted and separated. Scrap metal yards are busy places and few owners have time or patience to sort through all of your items. They are concerned mostly only with running an efficient business – not making sure you make the most money!

Sometimes what we do is dedicate a truckload to only one metal – say aluminum one day, copper the next – you can also simply keep everything sorted inside the truck using boxes or other types of containers.

Step 4: Scaling In

Scrap metal is purchased typically by the pound or ton. The more you have, the more you will be paid! Scrap Metal is a commodity and often the price paid will fluctuate from day to day. Some days it is much higher – and you will learn as you go through the seasons and see how supply and demand can affect the prices you will be paid!

You can sometimes check the prices ahead of time online at certain scrap yard dealer’s websites, but we’ve found it’s really best to just make the effort to scrap regularly. Sitting on a ton of metal waiting for prices to go up is not usually the greatest thing to do – because, for all you know, they may go down more and stay that way!

While at the scrapyard, try to be courteous of others who are there and make sure you do not block the flow of traffic. It can be at times a very busy place with many cars and people coming and going, so you’ll want to make sure you’re not holding everyone up if you park somewhere that blocks the exit or entrance onto the scale.

Step 5: Collect Your Cash!

After the materials are weighed, you will be able to then collect the cash! Most scrap yards pay in cash, so that’s nice to have the cash straight in your pocket without waiting or having to go to the bank. Be sure to be kind and courteous to those who work at the scrapyard – it does help to make the experience all the better if you work on building a good relationship with them.

Making Money With Scrap Metal Recycling

It would of course take a lot longer and lots of time to share with you every single tip and trick for making money scrap metal recycling, but this will hopefully give you at least a good idea of how to start collecting and selling scrap metals for extra cash as a source of additional income!

Have any questions? Comments? Share your thoughts below!


  1. I’m always looking for ways to make some spare change. I am a college student, so anything helps. I like your tip to cover up the scrap metal you find with a tarp to keep it safe.

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