10 Things Your Scrap Yard Probably Won’t Accept

Are you new to scrapping, or perhaps have some things you’d love to take to your local scrap yard? If yes, you may be on to something. Whether consistently or for a one-off deal, selling scrap metal can yield decent returns. 

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07/18/2024 02:16 pm GMT

Scrap Yard Myths

But before you begin scrapping, you should familiarize yourself with the critical aspects of the sector. More importantly, don’t let any misconceptions about the scrap industry influence your decisions. Some of the myths about scrap metal recycling you should be aware of include:

  • Bigger is better (Most of the time, but not always)
  • Stainless steel is always stainless steel
  • Precious metals in your electronics can give you a lot of money
  • Scrap yards make double or even three times more than what they offer you
  • Burning copper wire can help strip it

On top of these, the biggest misconception that you should avoid falling for is that scrap yards accept everything. So, instead of spending time, money, and energy hauling things to a scrap yard only to be turned down, it’s best to know what to avoid.

This article will teach you ten things your local scrap yard probably won’t accept.

10 Things Your Scrap Yard Probably Won't Accept

What Will Scrap Yards Not Take?


While the name ‘scrap metal recycling’ might be a dead giveaway, you’d be surprised at some things people take to scrap yards. So, don’t make the same mistake. The first rule you should remember is only to take metallic items. Any non-metallic items will be turned away.

Some of the non-metallic items that you should avoid include:

  • Fiberglass
  • Insulation
  • Paper
  • Tires
  • Plastics
  • Garbage
  • Dirt Wood
  • Roofing
  • Solid waste

Radioactive Materials

radioactive material is not accepted at scrap yards

Radioactive Materials (RAM) contain unstable atoms that emit ionizing radiation as they decay. When exposed to such materials in large amounts, you may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, hemorrhage, and deconstruction of the central nervous system and intestinal lining. Moreover, they increase the risk of cancer and can cause death.

Aside from the health effects they can cause, radioactive materials contaminate the plant’s metals and recycling equipment. As such, there are unique requirements for handling and recycling radioactive materials. Therefore, avoid taking anything with radioactive properties to a scrap metal recycling plant.

Compressed Gas Cylinders

Compressed gas cylinders are made of aluminum, a recyclable metal. However, due to the contents of the cylinders, which are often explosive and hazardous, recycling them is not straightforward. This is why there’s a ban on sending empty gas cylinders to recyclers in some states.

And, in states where it’s permissible, the cylinders must be emptied, the valves removed, and cut in half. As you can see, this can be cumbersome. So before taking cylinders to your local recycling plant, make sure they accept them. 

Hazardous Liquids

A significant proportion of scrap metal comes from end-of-life products, some of which contain hazardous elements. As the name suggests, dangerous materials harm people and the environment.

Due to the nature of such products, their recycling process is more complex than regular scrap metal recycling. As such, if the metals or materials have traces of hazardous material, your local scrap yard will not buy them. 


Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have a wide range of uses in several industries. They’re used as solvents, refrigerants, degreasing agents in the electronic industry, propellants for aerosol cans, and blowing agents in plastic formation. 

From refrigerators to aerosol cans, CFCs are available in many products to provide you with scrap metal. However, recyclers will not accept such products for recycling if they’ve not been drained of CFCs such as dichlorodifluoromethane (Freon-12 or R-12). 

Suggested Reading: Can You Recycle Freon From Air Conditioners?


Typically, explosive materials have a high metal content. However, finding a scrap yard that can accept them is challenging. As with radioactive and hazardous materials, explosives are dangerous to handle. So, for the safety of staff, recyclers do not buy them. 

Flammable Materials

At some point, there was a sudden rise in scrap yard fires. Some scrap metals are used with flammable gas, oil, and paints. And, as metals are crushed during recycling, sparks can form. 

The heat or sparks can combust the flammable materials, resulting in a fire. To limit such risks, scrap metal recyclers do not accept flammable materials.

Printed Circuit Boards

As mentioned, one of the biggest scrapping misconceptions is that there’s a lot of money to be made from the Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) of electronics. Commonly known for being inside fluorescent lightbulbs, this is a dangerous material. Many yards don’t want to take the risk of the PCBs leaking when recycling, so they don’t accept them.

Air Bags

A significant proportion of scrap metal recycling work comes from cars. While they’re primarily metallic, parts such as airbags are not and pose a risk. During recycling, the airbags can explode. However, that’s not the primary concern.

When such airbags tear up and do not explode, they contaminate scrap metal. This is because sodium azide, the toxic chemical that explodes harmlessly to inflate the bag, is released. Instead of dealing with such incidents, scrap metal recyclers do not accept airbags. 

Oil Filters

Due to the steel content in oil filters, they can be recycled. However, many recyclers opt not to do it if there are some remnants of oil as it presents a fire hazard. 

Insight Equals Success

Many factors will determine your successful trip as you prepare to take your haul to the local scrap yard. Key among them is the current price of scrap metal.

In this regard, the iScrap App is just what you need. It provides crucial real-time insight into the scrap metal sector, including current prices. This lets you choose the ideal time and location to sell your scrap metal. Download the app today to access critical insights into the scrap metal industry.  

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