We have talked to a lot of people that live in stats through 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: Because not all states have the same priorities, the same problems, 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 from them.
Here are some examples of problems we have heard about and some states that make it a little tougher to be a scrapper.
Common State Scrap Laws
You will be hard pressed to find a state that will buy scrap metal without receiving some sort of state- or a US-issued identification. There are many other laws that are common among most states, look up your state’s scrap laws. This has become commonplace and with the theft picking up since 2000, we have seen more and more states regulating the scrap business even more.
Here are a few states whose rules and regulations on scrap metal recycling stuck out to us.
California – Difficult Scrap Metal Laws
By far one of the hardest states to scrap in due to the extremely tight restrictions on recycling. Most scrap yards in California have to take all recyclables from newspapers, plastics, rubber, and more, just to be able to continue to recycle metals. While the state scrap laws for California make it difficult 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 that say some of the biggest problems are not even the different materials that they have to take, but when materials are integrated together and tough to sort and separate. An example of this is microwaves or ovens. These items that have circuit boards cannot just be thrown into the Light Iron piles because a majority of the scrap in California is sent directly to China. With the Chinese import rules being so tight on these items it 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 seems to be a real hot streak for theft in the state as well. With large cities like Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and Austin, Texas continued to implement multiple laws to make sure that theft gets cut down.
Things that are regulated in Texas are items like manhole covers, guardrails, street signs, drain grates, and other things like light poles have been many items that scrap yards have limitations on buying from individuals. Scrap yards in Texas can still buy those items, but generally, they will be buying them directly from local cities and towns as well as from 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 times large cities and metro areas like New York City, Chicago, and Atlanta, local governments have to institute different laws to cut down on scrap and to give local law enforcement different tools to go after the scrap thieves.
Many of the larger cities require stickers to be placed on appliances that are put onto the street, and if those appliances appear at a scrap yard from a non-approved vendor, the scrap yard is supposed to turn them away, but the problem is that 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 things to do in the larger cities, because many of the scrap yards have such large volumes coming in and sometimes these items get thrown into the piles quicker then 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 tough law to sort out for scrappers in Ohio; a scrap yard is only allowed to buy one catalytic converter per person per day. 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 aggressively buy these cats and tough for people to find a good consistent buyer.
There is a provision if you are a registered car dealer that you can sell as many as you can, but we know that the 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 have found out by talking to scrappers and talking to 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 only allows scrap yards, to buy batteries from certified businesse but there are no “scrap police”, so it is very difficult for some of these to be enforced.
Suggested Reading: Find Your State’s Scrap Laws
Normally the scrap yards that have restrictions and follow the rules could become unpopular…that is generally only to the people who are not doing business correct to begin with. 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 material, even if it is for half of the price.