How Do Scrap Metal Recyclers Work?

If you are new to the industry, you might be wondering how on earth scrap metal recyclers work, what the process involves, what to do when you arrive at the yard, and what happens after you’ve left. We understand that a lot of these areas are mere curiosity, so you can feel a little ridiculous asking the recycler for clarification. In this article, we have outlined the who, what, where, when and how in the hopes of providing you with a better understanding.

Who?
Scrap metal recyclers are the people who collect and/or purchase goods that are no longer required, including off cuts and old appliances. They will pay market value for the goods before putting them through the recycling process and selling them back to manufacturers. The people who visit these sorts of dealers are generally those who in trades (such as plumbers and electricians), but also the general public.

What?
Recyclers will accept all kinds of scrap, but it can generally be divided into three categories – ferrous, non-ferrous and electronics. Ferrous metals are fairly common (such as steel and iron); they are magnetic and often fetch the lowest price. Non-ferrous ones are rarer (such as copper and aluminium); they aren’t magnetic and are more valuable. Electronics will contain precious metal (such as gold and silver).

Where?
More often than not, recyclers choose to base themselves in and around urban and suburban areas. Some will even have multiple locations around the city in order to serve a wider customer base. If you aren’t actually looking for these dealers, it’s unlikely that you’ll see one. This is because they are often found on side roads and in industrial locations, because they need room to store the goods and for trucks.

When?
The frequency with which you should visit a recycler will ultimately depend on how often you’re collecting metal. Some people can visit daily, whereas others will only go weekly or monthly. Some dealers also offer containers or a pickup service, so they will come out and collect the goods for you (this will often eat into your profits). The busy time of year usually falls during the spring and summer.

How?
The way that recyclers operate is very different to a tip or your regular municipal recycling centre. They need to sort and weigh your scrap before determining how much it’s worth (each metal will be priced separately based on market trade). Keep in mind that dealers will not usually pickup goods from homeowners, as it’s not cost efficient for them to do so. Instead, hire a trailer to get it in.

It is important to keep in mind that the information above should only be taken as a guide and that scrap metal recyclers may have slightly different ways of operating. If you are new to the industry, however, we hope that this has provided you with a better idea of how it all works. The last piece of advice that we wanted to leave you with is to wait until you have a relatively large collection of scrap to ensure the highest possible profit.