How To Scrap Ethically and Effectively

Recently, there has been a growing interest in scrapping, whether as a hobby or driven by economic and environmental reasons. As we embark on the quest for valuable metals and materials, we must emphasize the significance of legal and ethical methods when sourcing scrap. We will be delving into the different ways to acquire scrap metal while promoting responsible practices that respect legal boundaries and environmental sustainability.

What Qualifies as “Scrap Metal?”

Scrap metal encompasses various materials discarded as waste but holds value. Common types include ferrous metals (iron and steel) and non-ferrous metals (aluminum, copper, brass). Recognizing these materials is essential for identifying potential sources such as appliances, automotive parts, and construction materials. The easiest way to do this is with a magnet.

Rockaway Recycling Magnet

Grab a handy magnet for scrapping from Rockaway Recycling - the home of the iScrap App.

  • 3 Colors Available!
Get Yours

Suggested Reading: Difference Between Non-Ferrous & Ferrous Metals

You always want to ensure that the way you acquire different types of scrap is legal, safe, and ethical. It’s crucial to avoid trespassing on private property or engaging in theft, as these practices are illegal and can result in serious consequences. Ethical alternatives include:

  • Keep an eye on the curb: Most people who aren’t scrapping typically leave all metal on the curb, hoping someone will pick it up. Be that person; for the most part, you can find a surprising amount of material this way.
  • Finding individual scrap jobs: Reaching out to people in your neighborhood with scrap appliances or small loads of material is a great way to find scrap cheaply without too much work. Driving around your area and/or talking to your neighbors is a great way to get the word out.
  • Finding scrap outside your neighborhood: Posting online to get the word out about your scrap business or find other people outside your network looking for scrap to be picked up can boost your metal stocks.

Try Partnering With Local Contractors and Businesses

Building relationships with contractors can provide a steady supply of scrap metal. Electricians and Plumbers have access to a wide variety of materials worth a fair amount to a scrap yard. When these types of contractors finish jobs, the extra material from a site is either kept by the contractor or, in some cases, thrown out.

Suggested Reading: Common Plumbing Scrap Metal Finds

We also recommend approaching local businesses and offering to handle their scrap metal disposal needs in exchange for acquiring the materials. This relationship benefits both parties, fosters community and collaboration, and ensures a consistent source of valuable scrap.

Suggested Reading: Common Electrician Scrap Finds

Community Recycling Programs and Local Dumpsters

While we discussed finding different scrap items on your local curb above, we want to highlight the efficacy of municipal recycling programs. Not only as a source of scrap metal but also a great way to ensure recyclable materials stay out of landfills. These are some common household items that people put out on their curbs for recycling every week:

  • Aluminum cookware: On top of aluminum cans, these are the most plentiful metals when scrapping. These always need to be cleaned before scrapping.
  • Appliances: Whether it is A/C Units or Dishwashers, these things do have an expiration date and eventually end up on the curb.
  • Old Lawn Furniture: These are great finds to add to your Sheet Aluminum pile. Maizimixe your profit by removing plastic handles or accessories

Be Aware Of Local Bylaws!

While you can often find much of this for free while searching in your neighborhood, you need to be aware of and adhere to local laws and regulations. Many homeowners don’t take too kindly to strangers diving through their recycling bins, and businesses will be even less kind about you jumping into their dumpsters. Always reach out to your neighbors and these businesses beforehand; let them know about your scrapping business and show them you are serious about what you do.

Garage Sales, Flea Markets, and Online Marketplaces

We’ve always been big proponents of using Craigslist and the like to stretch your reach further when finding scrap outside your local area. It can also be used to find buyers for your more niche items that may not have otherwise moved. As mentioned above, they are also great for getting the word out about you as a scrapper. If you are starting a scrap business, it can be a solid place to post listings for scrap pick-up and/or junk removal.

Using the iScrap App to Locate Scrap Yards and Current Prices

We started iScrap because we craved standardization and transparency among scrap yards. This is a feature of the iScrap App that we still promote. We recommend all scrappers use it for a variety of reasons. Based on the information you provide, it facilitates the location of nearby scrap yards and provides real-time information on current scrap metal prices. These prices are amalgamated from user-reported prices as well as internal data.

Utilizing the iScrap App empowers individuals to make informed decisions and maximize their profits when selling collected scrap materials.

Tips for Safe and Efficient Scrap Metal Collection

Safety is essential when setting out to become a scrapper. Readers should use appropriate personal protective equipment, be mindful of potential hazards, and exercise caution when collecting and transporting scrap materials. When scrapping, it’s easy to find items that can cause harm if you’re not paying attention.

Here are some simple safety items we recommend:

Suggested Reading: Safety Items Needed For Scrapping

3M Safety Glasses
Buy Now
We earn a commission when you buy, with no additional cost.
03/13/2024 05:15 pm GMT
KAYGO KG125M Work Gloves
$9.99 $8.99
Buy Now
We earn a commission when you buy, with no additional cost.
03/13/2024 04:21 pm GMT
Timberland PRO Men's Boondock Work Boot
Buy Now
We earn a commission when you buy, with no additional cost.
03/13/2024 09:05 pm GMT
Malta Dynamics Hard Hat
Buy Now
We earn a commission when you buy, with no additional cost.
03/13/2024 09:10 pm GMT

Sorting and preparing scrap efficiently maximizes profits and streamlines the overall collection process. Making sure you’re not wasting time pulling apart every little bit of copper from CBM, or busting apart transformers can save you valuable time depending on how much else you have going on. In many cases, it may not be worth stripping certain items further.

When out on the road, it’s prudent that you tie down and safely secure all items in your vehicle. Once you start moving with a large load, you are responsible for your safety and the safety of drives nearby. The last thing you want to have happen is a stray bit of scrap flying off your truck while on the freeway!

Suggested Reading: How To Pack Your Truck For The Scrap Yard

The Bigger Picture: Ethical Scrap Metal Collection

Being a scrapper doesn’t have to mean sketchy late-night dives into dumpsters and recycling bins! The iScrap team will always encourage readers and like-minded scrappers to be trustworthy and honest when it comes to sourcing their scrap materials. More broadly, scrappers should also consider the weight of environmental impact their actions can have. We’ve spoken at length about how burning wire is never something you should do. We also covered the responsible way to dispose of and recycle Freon.

Suggested Reading: Can You Recycle Freon From Air Conditioners?

Oftentimes, scrappers get a bad rap, so don’t let those bad first assumptions be true for you. Like any other service being provided, act professionally and courteously. By following these responsible recycling practices, individuals contribute to a sustainable and eco-friendly scrap metal industry, promoting positive change on both local and global scales.