Common Measurements in Scrap Metal Recycling

Scrap metal is an industry of numbers. Prices, weights, net weight, tares, and so many other factors. It’s important to know how your scrap yard scales operate and be knowledgeable about all the measurements that go into selling and buying scrap metal. Asking questions at your scrap yard is a good way to find the different regulations or policies they have in place when buying your scrap metal. If you are a scrapper that is constantly bringing in larger amounts of materials, one of the questions that should be important to ask is how they measure the tons at their scales.



Suggested Reading: Why Do Scrap Yards Have Steel Minimums?

Different Types of Weight Measurements

Within the iScrap App community, we have several discussions about how scrap yards buy metals by the tons and why there are some things to keep in mind. If you are hauling a lot of steel or other metals in your trucks from jobs you are working on, you should probably know the difference between tons and measurements at your yard. Below are the definitions for various types of tons and measurements for scrap metal:

  • Pound – This weight measurement is the commonly used measurement across North America regarding scrap metal. Scrap prices found online and through the iScrap App is usually priced this way.
  • Short Ton – A short ton is the US measurement for 2,000 pounds (907.18 kg). In the US, this measurement is not used too often in scrap metal but can be used for non-ferrous metals.
  • Long Ton – A long ton is used the most often in scrap metal in the US and is equal to 2,240 pounds (1,016.05 kg). Often scrap prices for steel and iron are measured in long tons.
  • Metric Ton – A metric ton is used in most other countries outside the US, which is 1,000 kg (2,204.6 pounds). This is often used by Canada and other international countries for scrap metal weight.



Kinds of Scrap Metal Scales

When preparing scrap metal for a local scrap yard, be sure to know how the material is measured. One thing to always keep in mind is how your material is weighed and the different measurements on your receipts. We also suggest looking for scale certifications from the state on the scales at your yard or ask the manager to see a copy to ensure the scales are calibrated correctly.

  • Truck Scales – Some scrap yards have truck scales that will weigh your vehicle when you arrive and when you leave. This method is most common for ferrous (steel/iron) materials for tons of materials.
  • Floor Scales – Other scrap yards have smaller free standing scales usually inside or in bays that will weigh your materials. They will usually use containers, racks, and dumpsters for weighing.
  • Mobile Scales – These are often common in cities, but some scrap yards have scales on trucks. Our suggestion is to always be aware and leary of mobile scales like this. When trucks are driving around and hit bumps or take sharp turns, these scales inside can become uncalibrated which can directly affect your profits. So be conscious of how much weight you have before relying on these scales.

Whether you are bringing tons of materials or only a few pounds of materials to your scrap yard, it’s important and good idea to have some clue how scrap yards measure your scrap. Knowing how much weight a ton of material is that you’re selling is important. Be sure to ask your scrap yard to make sure you are on the same page.


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