According to an IBIS World report, the US market for scrap metal recycling is worth $27.8 billion in 2021. This is after being adjusted for a 5.5% growth for the year. Based on projections, such change is poised to continue in the coming years.
As such, regardless of whether you are a seasoned scrapper or not, there’s a lot of money to be made if you have access to scrap metal. Even still, there are several challenges that you can expect to face as a scrapper. Key among those challenges is fluctuating scrap metal prices. Therefore, you’ll need to monitor prices to determine the best time to go to the scrap yard.
At the scrap yard, there are also several challenges that scrappers face. This article highlights such obstacles to help you prepare and address them.
1. Lack of Clarity About Scrap Metal Grading
The beauty of scrap yards is that you can take just about any type of metal. However, not all metals have the same value. Since you’re in for the buck, this can be a crucial factor in the value you’ll get.
Ordinarily, businesses provide a list of products they sell or buy and indicate the prices. If you’re a first-time scrapper, you’ll be surprised that most scrap yards don’t do this. Even worse, upon asking, they may not give you a definitive answer about how they grade scrap metals.
You can easily be duped and leave with much less cash if you’re not aware of grading. Therefore, you ought to know your metals and grading as a scrapper. Just because it’s big does not mean it’s valuable.
When it comes to grading, there are two key factors; the alloy composition of the metal and the amount of work necessary before the metals are recycled. Some of the popular grades include:
- Mixed Scrap – This is a batch of scrap metal with different metals with varying cleanliness levels. It fetches the lowest price, that’s why it’s advisable to sort and clean your scrap.
- Brass – To qualify as clean brass, it should have less than 5% of other materials. With most scrap yards, brass with copper content is acceptable.
- Stainless Steel – This can be classified as either clean or dirty depending on whether the proportion of other materials is above or below 5%.
- Aluminum– There are several grades of aluminum ranging from food and drink cans to extruded aluminum. With each category, the content level of other materials should be less than 5% for it to qualify as clean.
- Solid Copper– Solid copper comes in two grades. With one, there should be little corrosion and no brass. The second one can have brass fittings and small traces of insulation, thinner than pencil lead.
- Copper Wire– There are three grades of insulated copper wire depending on the weight of the insulation in relation to the weight of the wire inside.
2. No Signage or Directions
If you’ve ever been to a scrap yard, you know how enormous they can be. Beyond this, they’re lined with mountains of junk all around and heavy machinery being operated. If you’re a first-time scrapper or you’re going to a new scrap yard, you’ll likely have some trouble navigating.
This is because most if not all, scrap yards do not bother putting signage or directions. So, be prepared to make a few wrong turns on your way in.
3. No Access to the Scale Reading
The value you get from scrap metal hinges on a few factors. These include the metal composition, sorting, cleaning, and weight. Once you bring in your scrap and it’s graded, it will be weighed to determine how much you get paid.
While you may assume that the weighing process is transparent, that’s not always the case. With some scrap yards, they’ll weigh it on their own and give you the findings. Well, it’s safe to say that if they’re not being transparent with the process, you can’t trust the result. Therefore, you should insist and ensure that you view weighing.
4. Little to No Professionalism from Staff
There are several challenges that scrappers face when visiting a scrap yard. While most apply to a select number of them, there’s one that seems to cut across the board; a lack of professionalism.
The customer service you’ll get at most scrap yards is less than desirable. At times you may even encounter rude attendants. It even gets to the extent of showing you that you are welcome to leave if you do not like the service.
This is why many scrappers drive to scrap yards far from where they live.
5. Bad Roads At Facility
As the name suggests, scrap yards are where people haul their junk. As such, if you’re expecting excellent infrastructure, you’re in for a surprise. This does not even explain why scrap yards have poorly maintained roads.
If you have a lot of scrap metal and going to a new scrap yard, be sure to use a suitable vehicle. Otherwise, you may have some trouble.
6. More than Happy to Downgrade
As mentioned earlier, there are several grades of each scrap metal. If you take the time to sort and clean your metals, you’ll get maximum value. Unfortunately, you may sometimes make a small mistake, such as adding a small piece of material that’s not supposed to be there.
Sadly, the attendants can notice this and not tell you to remove it. As a result, instead of being paid for #1 copper, you get paid for #2 copper. To avoid such issues, ensure that you agree on the grade after weighing it before they take it away.
7. The Valve Spring In The Scale Trick
With the weight of scrap playing a pivotal role in how much you get, it’s vital that you witness weighing. However, even if you do, you can still get conned. In some yards, attendants use the valve spring trick. Some springs are inserted into the scale to absorb some of the weight.
As such, while you’ll witness the weighing, the readings will only reflect a proportion of the actual weight. If possible, weigh your scrap metals beforehand to have a rough idea of what to expect.
Become a Smart Scrapper
Selling scrap metal can be a lucrative venture, even if it’s only for one time. However, to get maximum value, you need to overcome all the barriers. These range from price fluctuations and dealing with poor service at scrap yards.
In this regard, the iScrap App is the ideal solution. This is your one-stop source of information for all things scrap. The app provides scrapping tips, live scrap metal prices and helps you find good scrap yards near you. Download the iScrap App for free today to enhance your scrapping experience.