old timer

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How to Shop or Sell at a Metal Recycler - PART 1


SO!  You’ve seen people, like me, who buy and sell at metal recycle shops all over the world. 


Have you ever wondered if there is any money to be made or any scores to be brought home???  I’m sure most of you have.  If you are reading my blog you have a “thing” about junk, crap and great stuff!!!  I know I do.  For me it’s the hunt.  It’s finding that “junk” that I just have to have. 

SO!  I was wondering how many of you know how to go about selling your stuff through a metal recycler?   When you look around your yard, your garage, maybe a shed or even the inside of your home … what do you see?  Items you would like to get rid of???  If you are like me you’ve had the thrift shops coming by to pick up your stuff or you’ve dropped your stuff off at one of the many boxes or transfer stations, like the Goodwill, out there just waiting for your amazing goodies!

WELL…  here’s a little bit on what you might look for to sell to a metal recycler and how to do just that.   Remember - if it's metal - you can recycle it here!!!

FIRST!  Find a recycler that is close to your home.  I have a few around here that will buy my stuff.  When I consider the cost to drive a heavier than normal load in my truck to the dealer farthest away, I have to consider the gas mileage I will get.  Then I have to know the price they are paying today, the day I am bringing in my stuff. 

This is the price board you should see some where in the office.  This is old, the prices may be completely different today!

You see these prices can change daily.  Most of the time the prices are within pennies of each other so I know if I go too far, it will cost me more in gas.  Not worth the drive then.  

Second!  You need to learn your metals and how the recycler you pick takes that metal.  Let’s look at a beer or soda can.  Right now the place farthest away from me is paying 3 cents higher, per pound, than the recycler one mile from my house.  HUM!  3 cents might not be much, unless, I’m going that way already.  By the time I get a big load ready it could mean as much as $5 more.  So, why not wait and go there?  While my closest guy lets me bring my cans in whole, the guy down the road makes me smash them.  That’s a lot of extra work.  Do I want to do that?  It’s messy, stinky and who knows what that can has had in it before you brought it home.  HUM????


Third!   You need to know that most places will pay extra for motors.  Like your microwave, blender or mixer.  Inside that motor is copper.   Keep them separate from the rest of your load.  If you drop off small fire extinguishers, they are made of aluminum which gets you more money, but, you have to empty out the contents and knock the tops off.  Do you want to do that?

Fourth!  Brass, aluminum, copper, steel and stainless steel all have more than one way to turn them in.  There is what they call clean.  Think copper here, the copper you would use inside your house we call electrical wire.  If you take the recycler copper that is still inside a jacket of some type, you will get less money for it.  If you took that jacket off the copper you would get more money for it.  They call that bare copper - clean.  First you need to know the difference in the price they will give you.  Then you need to know if it is worth your time to remove that jacket.  Most of the time, NOPE!  Most of us only have a little bit of wire to bring in.

Don’t worry!  This is not all that complicated.  Just a few things to know before you get there the first time so you can make more money.  Most of these places will NOT tell you this!  My guys by me will!  I love “my” guys!

Okay!  Let’s load your vehicle!!!

My truck ready to go to recycle center!

Every thing you see here was found in the alleys.

The fire extinguisher is aluminum, the wire is coated or dirty copper, every thing else is considered scrap.

Joy and I found this about 3/4 mile from our house in an alley.

This is worth about 50 cents (OOPS!) $5 and not worth a trip in by itself.  So, the owner put it in the alley for some one who is taking a bigger load in.  Thanks!!!

Now you need to load your vehicle so you can easily take out any thing that will be weighed on a smaller scale than the one you will eventually drive your vehicle on.

This will get weighed by itself.

Next to me they take everything, except scrap steel and junk, and weigh it on a small scale. 

Ready, set, drive!!! 

Drive to the recycler of your choice. 

This is what I see when I drive into my neighborhood recycle center!

Some times I find it best just to drive up to the office and ask them what to do.  I did that the first time I went into my local guys.  They were so busy I couldn’t believe it.  BUT!  Two different guys took the time and told me a lot about what I could do and how to do it.  To me!  This is the best way to go!!!!

By now you should be giving some one your copper, aluminum, brass or motors. 

The green bucket is full of copper and brass.  These will get weighed on a small scale.

They will weigh it for you by the type of metal it is.   They will tally up your totals and give that to the person in the office.

Then it’s time for you to drive your vehicle onto a large weigh scale. 

After you have driven you vehicle completely onto the scale ,,,  stop! 

That's grandpa behind the wheel!

Some place they have a light and a scale you can read.  The guys by me turn on a green light to tell you that they have weighed your vehicle loaded with your goodies and you can move off the scale. 

The scale will tell you how much it weighed.  Now, unload your vehicle. 

This guy has a dump on his truck!  SCHWEET!
Yes, some one brought that boat in for scrap!

When you are done, drive back over to the weigh scale and stop after you are completely on the scale.  Wait for the green light, check the weight and then drive over to the office.  Can you see the difference in the amount your vehicle weighed?  Some times it’s a very nice surprise!

At this point all your work is done.  Now, the person in the office will ask you for ID.  They need to put you into their system AND check you out.  If you are on a list that says you have a problem some place you will NOT be able to sell your stuff to them.  There is a list (from other recyclers and pawn shops) letting them know if you have been in trouble with the law selling stolen items.  OOPS!  Some times things happen and that’s the way it goes. 

Once you have gotten into their system they will pay you.  Some pay cash, some pay with checks.  That’s up to the dealer.

Now, smile at the nice person who just paid you to take them your garbage!  Wasn’t that nice of them?  I always think it is!  Otherwise my local garbage collector would be getting most of this and I have to pay them to take it away.  The difference?  You already have to do the work.  You have to take out the garbage.  Why not put it in your vehicle and drive it some place and take their money?  I love to!

The first time I did this I was getting rid of an old steel cabinet.  After I got done and went into the office the guy gave me $23!  That cabinet was 230 pounds of steel, clean steel.  I was a very happy lady!  This was well worth my time.  It took 2 minutes to load it into my truck.  About 5 minutes to weigh my truck, dump off the cabinet then reweigh my truck.  $23 was better than letting some one else haul it away!

Some day if you would really like to try this ,,, start with aluminum cans.  It’s the easiest and pays very well, if you ask me.  You can call ahead to the place you are taking them and ask them if you need to crush the cans.  If you don’t need to crush them great, if you do, stomp away!   They smash easy!  I figure there are approximately 30 to 35 cans in a pound.  I tried this last week for the first time.  I filled a 30 gallon trash bag ¼ full with crushed cans. 

Not very many cans,,,, yet we got $5 for this! 
We'll try it again soon!

It was $5!  Joy and I were on our normal walk and picked up the cans in only 6 blocks down our alley.  Not bad for just bending over on our short trip.  We usually walk about 12 blocks but my hands were over flowing with plastic bags full of stinky cans!  J   Next time I take them in, I’m going to make sure the bag is full! 

If you decide to pull cans from other people’s garbage… PLEASE be carefull.  You need to realize there are some dangers in doing this!  I find a lot of hypodermic needles on the ground in the alleys!  By that, I mean a dozen or so a year.  If one of those was in a garbage can and you poked your self with it, you could be in some serious trouble.  I put my self at risk doing some of what I do.  BUT!  I know my neighbors pretty good.  I know who lives in the houses I take stuff from.  I know of a couple cans I will not touch!  I know who lives there and their life styles.  Their life style is their business ,,, but my health is my business.  Better safe, than sorry!

I hope this helps you to understand how to sell your metal junk to a scrap dealer.  It’s relatively easy.  It’s just a little scary the first time!  Give it a try and let me know how your trip went!  It’s fun!  AND!  I have to say, I meet some wonderful people there.  I’ll tell you about some of them another time.

Thanks to Everett Recycling for letting me take a few pictures.  If you are in my area,,, stop on by and see "my guys".  They are great!

If you have any questions just drop me a note and I'll help you as much as I can!!!
Have a good one and thanks for stopping by!  Shelley


  1. We've taken stuff several times to clean up our property. The previous owner was a pack rat.

    lol...we took one of the jon boats...it leaked.
    Have another one to take.

  2. Sounds like you are having fun!!! I love going to the recycle centers. There are several around here. Thanks!!! Shell