These 3 States Are Hard To Scrap In

We have talked to many people who live in states throughout the US that have varying scrap laws, and many people have asked why different states have such different rules. 

Why Do So Many States Have Different Scrap Laws?

The answer: Not all states have the same priorities, the same problems, and the same governors or state-constituting bodies to make sure that things are done the same way. Some states have rules that only licensed

 HVAC specialists can scrap the old condensers from homes, and that causes scrappers who continue to get those units to often travel out of state to sell the scrap. 

Here are some examples of problems we have heard about and some states that make it a little trickier to be a scrapper.


Common State Scrap Laws

You will be hard-pressed to find a state that will buy scrap metal without requiring you to bring some state or US-issued identification. Many other laws are common among most states; look up your state’s scrap laws. This has become commonplace, and with theft picking up since 2000, we have seen more and more states regulate the scrap business.

Here are a few states whose rules and regulations on scrap metal recycling stuck out to us.

California – Difficult Scrap Metal Laws

By far, it is one of the most challenging states to scrap it due to the extremely tight restrictions on recycling. Most scrap yards in California must take all recyclables from newspapers, plastics, rubber, and more to continue recycling metals. While the state scrap laws for California make it challenging to be “just a scrap yard,” many people have complimented the laws, saying that they have been very proactive in helping to reduce the number of recyclable materials that go into landfills. 

We have spoken to many scrap yard owners and managers who say some of the biggest problems are not even the different materials they have to take but when they are integrated and tough to sort and separate. An example of this is microwaves or ovens. These items with circuit boards cannot just be thrown into the Light Iron piles because most of the scrap in California is sent directly to China. The Chinese import rules being so tight on these items makes it even harder for scrap yards in the state.

Suggested Reading: Ripple Effect of Trade Wars on Scrap Metal

Texas – Combating Theft Statewide

With a large population and hot weather throughout most of the year, there also seems to be a real hot streak for theft in the state. Large cities like Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and Austin, Texas, continued implementing multiple laws to ensure that theft was reduced.

Things regulated in Texas include manhole covers, guardrails, street signs, drain grates, and other things like light poles. Many items that scrap yards have limitations on buying from individuals. Scrap yards in Texas can still purchase those items, but generally, they will buy them directly from local cities and towns and contractors that have won state or local contracts on changing and replacing those metal items.

Suggested Reading: Scrapping Aluminum Street Signs

Large US Cities

Yes, we know that this is not a state, but often, large cities and metro areas like New York City, Chicago, and Atlanta have local governments that have to institute different laws to cut down on scrap and give local law enforcement different tools to go after scrap thieves. 

Many larger cities require stickers to be placed on appliances that are put onto the street. If those appliances appear at a scrap yard from a non-approved vendor, the scrap yard is supposed to turn them away. However, many of these units are unloaded in parts of the scrap yard where the workers may not know or have been told the laws and thrown into the piles with all of the other scrap.

It is not always the easiest thing to do in the larger cities because many of the scrap yards receive such large volumes, and sometimes, these items get thrown into the piles quicker than quality control can pull them out.

Suggested Reading: Scrap Metal Thieves Give Industry A Bad Name

Ohio – One Catalytic Converter A Day

Here is a strict law for scrappers in Ohio: a scrap yard can only buy one catalytic converter per person daily. That means if you are scrapping out 2-3 vehicles for junk in one day, you can still only sell one cat. That makes it difficult for scrap yards to buy these cats aggressively and challenging for people to find a consistent buyer.

There is a provision that if you are a registered car dealer, you can sell as many as you can, but we know that people who are scrapping cars are generally not registered dealers and this law makes it very difficult.

Suggested Reading: 4 Ways To Prepare Your Catalytic Converters for Scrap

Overall Scrap Laws

Having rules and enforcing rules are two different things we found out by talking to scrappers and scrap yards. While there are laws in some states not to pay cash to customers, we have heard that many customers will go out of state to sell scrap and get paid cash instead of waiting to get a check, a debit card, or even go through a waiting period to get a check in the mail.

Some states do not let scrap yards buy certain items, like Georgia, which only allows scrap yards to buy batteries from certified businesses. However, there are no “scrap police,” so it is very difficult for some of these to be enforced. 

Which State Pays The Most For Scrap, Then?

Wouldn’t that be a great question to ask? Unfortunately, there are just as many variables as there are independent state laws on scrapping that explain why regional prices may be different. Depending on yard locations to ports or whether they sell to mills locally or overseas can significantly affect how pricing is determined.

Suggested Reading: What Location Has To Do With Scrap Prices

Usually, scrap yards that have restrictions and follow the rules could become unpopular, but generally only to those who are not doing business correctly. Those people who don’t want to show state-issued IDs, get a check, or have selling restrictions will always find a way to sell the material, even if it is for half the price.