An Inexperienced Recycler's Guide to Trading Scrap Metal for Cash

It is no big secret that hauling in scrap metal to a local scrap metal recycling center is a good way to make some extra money. Many of the metal objects that end up in trash bins and dumpsters can be recycled back into purposeful materials, which means metal can be quite valuable. Even if you have heard of scrap metal recycling, you may have questions about the whole process if you have no experience. Here are a few of the most common questions and the answers you should know to help you get started. 

What types of metal can be taken to the recycling center?

Most scrape recycling centers will accept just about any kind of metal you could find. This will range from softer materials like aluminum and copper, to more dense and heavy metals like iron and steel. You can take in small metals, such as copper wiring or aluminum cans, but you can also recycle massive metal objects like vehicles and machinery. Titanium, gold, and silver from jewelry and electronics may also be accepted at some locations. 

How will recycling center determine the value of what you have?

The recycling center will pay you according to the weight of the metal and its current market value, which can change and fluctuate with supply and demand. Additionally, the condition of some metals can affect the amount you are given. For example, if you bring in copper wiring that is still coated with rubber and insulated materials, you will be paid less than what you would for "clean" copper. 

Should the different types of metal be separated?

It is always a good idea to separate the metal you take into the recycling centers. While the center employees will do some separating on their own, it will be too time consuming to sift through small pieces, and therefore, you will be given a generic price for metal that is not sorted. 

How much can you really make from scrap metal?

You may have heard stories about people who make a living by recycling metal alone. While this may be true, it is not a sustainable form of income for most people because of the dramatic fluctuations in metal values over time. 

If you have access to metal scrap, whatever form it may be in, taking it in for recycling is beneficial for both you and the environment. If you have additional questions about getting started, talk to a representative from a scrap metal recycling center for more information or visit websites like