Navigating The Gray Areas Of Scrap Metals

gray area of scrap metalsLike many other industries, the scrap metal industry has it’s own gray areas when it comes to collecting scrap metal, selling it, and the laws and regulations that go along with it. While scrap laws usually vary from state to state in the US, there are many restrictions and illegal things that apply nationwide. With the theft of scrap metal an increasing occurrence in the industry, there are many new laws that are taking into effect and being consider to deter the crimes. Whether it is copper pipe/wire theft, air conditioning units stolen, or catalytic converters cut out there are many things to consider before you make your next scrap hunting trip.


Selling Copper Wires & Pipes

Usually collected from households and businesses, if you are bringing in a large quantity (1000lbs.+) of scrap copper to a scrap yard, you should expect to be seen as a suspicious customer. Scrap yards look for the type of business person you are. If they notice the van or truck has a business name on it for electrical, contracting, or plumbing work, it is normal for those businesses to collect hundreds of pounds of copper at a time. Whether it is from new installations, demolitions, or a collection of copper over a period of time, scrap yards will recognize that the copper is coming from a trusted business owner.


2-1-Copper-TubingIf you are not an official business owner but rather legally collect copper and wire from clients or homeowners in your area, it may be a good idea to have some proof of any communications with those you picked up from.Copper is a high priced commodity and the suspicion around collecting it can put you in hot water if the scrap yard reports you to the police. Be sure to let you scrap yard know that you are legally collecting the copper from any remodeling or demolition that local homeowners are willingly giving to you.

Recycling Air Conditioner Units

scrapping an air conditionerSome companies like HVAC or plumbers will often bring in large rooftop or standalone air conditioner units to their local scrap yard. Usually these companies will be able to legally remove the freon refrigerant inside of the air conditioner. Freon which is used to make the air cool, is a chemical that if not dealt with properly can result in hefty fine dished out by the EPA for thousands of dollars. Many times those that steal air conditioner units from buildings or homes will not drain the freon or will do it illegally and then bring it to a scrap yard. Scrap yards usually will not accept air conditioners with freon inside because it cannot be recycled until the freon has been removed.


Many scrappers will come across air conditioner units during the summer months when they start to kick the can. Sometimes it can be from your own house or from a neighbors, but make sure to scrap them the proper way to make sure you are not getting fined from the EPA. If you have a few air conditioners you are looking to scrap, be sure to call up your local licensed HVAC contractor to have them remove the freon from the unit. Perhaps you can sell it to them for a price bit less than scrap value and you don’t have to deal with the headache of removing the freon.

Replacing Your Catalytic Converter

Many times salvage yards will purchase used auto parts to increase their inventory, this includes purchasing catalytic converters. There are many precious metals in the catalytic converter on your car that helps reduce the toxins that are released into the air from your engine’s exhaust system. When auto body shops or mechanics are looking to sell the replaced catalytic converters, they usually will bring a larger quantity that has been saved up, to their scrap yard. The scrap yards usually have an account with their business for the catalytic converters they sell for scrap.

catalytic-converter-scrapAs a vehicle owner you are obligated to keep any parts that are replaced or repaired from your vehicle. So if you have to get your catalytic converter replaced, you can ask you mechanic to save the old one for you to scrap with your local yard. But be careful and aware, some states like North Carolina are recently passing new regulations that require you to be a licensed professional to be able to sell auto parts to a scrap yard. So if you are fixing up your car yourself, you may not be able to sell your old parts to a scrap yard, but instead have to give them to your mechanic.

Wrap Up!

So if you are looking to sell some of these materials with your local scrap yard, be sure to check ahead with your yard to see if there are any regulations or laws in place that will affect how you recycle your scrap metals with them. It is always good to be educated about what you are doing, so it doesn’t come and bite you in the brass!


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