Metals/Items That Scrap Yards Hate to See: A Guide for Scrappers

pile of steel

Scrapping can be a profitable and environmentally friendly way to dispose of unwanted metals, but it has its pitfalls. When tossing things into your steel pile, it’s easy to include items of lower value, but mixing metals and other materials can lead to severe issues with your yard or your wallet!

Many scrappers unknowingly toss items into the steel bin, which can cause major headaches for recyclers. Knowing what to avoid is crucial for both safety and profitability.

Avoid Environmental Hazards

One of the biggest concerns for scrap yards is dealing with items that pose environmental hazards. These can harm the crew and customers in the yard and the surrounding environment. Items like these include:

  1. Items with Oils or Gasoline: Lawnmowers, snowblowers, and other equipment often contain residual oils or gasoline. When stored, these substances can cause contamination, clog balers, or make a mess on pallets. When spilled in public areas, they can also become a tripping concern for yard staff and customers.
  2. Items with Coolant: Think Air Conditioners, Freezers, Refrigerators etc. We’ve previously discussed how you can recycle Freon and the certification required. Many refrigerants are highly potent greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change, so it is best to dispose of them correctly before heading to a scrap yard.
  3. Batteries: Any items with batteries could be hazardous, as they pose a fire hazard when stacked on top of other items, primarily if crushed underneath your steel pile!

Keep Non-Metal Items Out of Your Steel Scrap

These items may not hurt the environment but can significantly hurt your wallet. Scrap yards aren’t looking to sell garbage, after all. Pieces of steel with heavy contamination can be downgraded even further. With steel prices declining, any little bit helps ensure you get the best prices for your ferrous metals. Here are a few common examples we see:

  1. Rubber Gaskets or Hoses: Found on Piping or sheet metal. Used in various applications
  2. Plastic and Wood: Check most of the steel items in your garden and patio section; nearly all will have one of the above contaminants.

Separate Your High-Value Scrap

Frequently, items littered with your steel can fetch a higher price if sorted separately. By separating these items, you can maximize your profits for each material. A few standard items include:

  • Stainless Steel and Cast Aluminum: These are incredibly common in the summer as people throw out their old or broken BBQs. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers make it easy to separate these different materials.
  • Copper, Brass, or Bronze: You’ll often see ends with bits of solder attached to steel on a radiator. Cutting these off can quickly add up!
  • Electric Motors: Another common sight on compressors of all sizes. People frequently bring entire compressors to the yard and leave the smaller motor attached to the outer shell because people may not think it is worth their time.

Sort Your Scrap Effectively!

With these tips, you can help keep yourself, your scrap yard, and the environment safe. Doing so allows you to sort your scrap more effectively while maximizing your profits simultaneously!