Whether your dream is to build a multi-million dollar business or something small to pay the bills, a scrap metal business is a straight forward lucrative venture anyone can start. As energy and materials become more and more scarce recycled materials are being used in almost every item we use. Metals are especially attractive for recycling in that they can be melted, purified, re alloyed and made into a material just as good as the original stock. The energy to recycle metal is less than the energy to mine and refine “new” metal; therefore a market will always exist for scrap metal.
Scrap metal can be found and traded for money or you can be a middleman between the refiners and smelters and have individuals bring you their scrap, otherwise known as a junk yard or scrap yard.
Most people generally think owning a scrap yard is the only way to make the real money with recycled metals. However industry consistently has a need to dispose of old equipment and materials. Sourcing these large supplies of metal junk can be as simple as finding nearby demolitions, office closures, manufacturing plant shutdowns, vehicle wrecks, etc. Many of these individuals and companies will gladly pay YOU to remove their “junk”. Not only can you receive a removal fee, but you will also receive the scrap value at your local yard.
You will need a way to haul this metal away and trade it for money. Depending on what type of metal and what source you are targeting, you may need special tools to remove and load the material into your truck or hauler. A small truck jib crane can be easily outfitted onto most vehicles to swing heavier loads for hauling. Your hauler will take a beating from this business. Scrap metal is not friendly to painted surfaces or anything you want to keep nice looking.
If you run into someone who wants to negotiate a price for removal or who wants a cut of your scrap profits you will need to know the quantity of metal beforehand. You’ll need to know the weight of the metal if you plan on purchasing scrap and reselling. A scale can help you with most items however you should already have an idea of what certain commodity items ie. Radiators, engine blocks, rail ties, refrigerators etc. will fetch at your local yard.
Not all metals are created equal. Some metals demand very high prices (copper, silver) and others are worth quite a bit less. Also many salvageable items contain many different metals and are scrapped on an itemized basis. A lot of metal isn’t unattached and ready for a refiner. Much of the metal found will have plastic or other unwanted material attached to it, wire is a good example of this. If you are taking your scrap to a yard, take the extra time to extract all non-metals from your haul. If you don’t do this the yard may give you a much lower lb basis for your metal translating to less money.
Work out deals with your local scrap yards in advance. The spot price for metal is generally the best price you can get with a large homogenous quantity of some metal. You’ll likely be bringing in many different types of metals and the quantities may be limited to what you find or what you can haul. Work out a deal where the yard gives you a good price in exchange for consistent influx of scrap metal.
You may be thinking, well if there is so much money in scrap metal, how come everyone isn’t doing it? The average person doesn’t realize the cost of raw materials and generally associates metal recycling with people collecting cans in the park. Most people do not have the desire on inclination to trade metal. The scrap metal industry is very resilient to economic downturn and can be very lucrative for the few who choose to pursue this business.