The only thing better than earning a few extra dollars is earning that cash while helping the environment. You can earn money while eliminating waste that would end up in the earth's overflowing landfills by recycling scrap metal. Recycling scrap metal is a simple process once you know what types of metals to look for, where you can find it, and where to take it. Follow these tips and you may find out that you have a natural knack as a part-time metal recycler.
1. Know Which Metals Are Most Valuable and Where to Find Current Values
Just like other commodities, the values of specific types of metals are always changing. However, there are some metals that are typically more valuable than others, even as their individual values fluctuate slightly. Of course, precious metals like gold and platinum hold the most value, but they are not considered scrap metal. The metals that you will be looking for that hold the highest values are silver, copper, and aluminum.
As of June 2015, silver is holding steady at over $16 a troy ounce. Copper is currently valued at about a little over $2.50 per pound. The value of aluminum doesn't fluctuate much over the years, and it tends to stay between 50 cents and one-dollar per pound. While you may notice that the jump in values from silver to copper to aluminum are huge, don't forget that you can find an aluminum can about everywhere you look, which makes this metal so easy to find that it could be the one you end up making the most money recycling.
There are other metals, such as tin, nickel, brass and stainless steel, that you can also recycle, and their values fluctuate as well. Another variable that scrap metal buyers take into account is the grade and quality of the metal being recycled. Higher grades are worth more, similar to how 18 karat gold is worth more than 10 karat gold. While you don't have to remember or even know what grade the scraps you are recycling are, it is a good idea to remember that grades vary so you understand why you may receive less cash for recycling two different pieces of metal that appear to be similar.
While it is good to keep an eye on the values of the scrap metals you will be recycling to give you an idea of what to expect at the recycling facility, remember that scrap metal buyers will only pay you a percentage of that value, which can vary from one buyer to another. They cannot give you the full value of the metal, because they must pay for the upkeep of their facilities and processing of the metal once they buy it from you.
2. Find Metal in Hidden and Obvious Places
Now that you know the value of metals, you are likely wondering where to find them aside from in the soda cans your family may drink from. There is hidden metal virtually everywhere you look; one good source is old metal-framed doors and another is inside old, broken electronics. Remember that metal is everywhere around you, and if you have an old broken appliance, that is likely another source of hidden metal.
While hidden metal can be a great treasure to find, remember that there is also nothing wrong with collecting aluminum cans, old cookware, and other obvious sources of pure metal.
Once you know what types of items you can find metal in, it is time to work out a plan to collect it legally. Start with asking your family and friends if they have collections of items they have been meaning to throw out but have not had the chance to. Donate your help in discarding what is non-recyclable if they will let you keep and recycle the metal you find. Volunteer to help clean-up construction sites with an agreement that you can keep scrap metal you find while cleaning.
Ask your neighbors, and even local businesses, if they recycle their aluminum cans, and if they don't, then offer to collect them from their homes or businesses every week. Many people and businesses will not find your collection a nuisance, but instead appreciate the help in managing their "trash" and recycling for them when they may not know how or don't think they have the time.
3. Take Them to Your Local Scrap Metal Buyer to Recycle
Once you have gathered some metals for your first trip to the scrap metal buyer, go ahead and take it in. Separate it into different types to encourage a speedy transaction at the recycling facility, but don't worry if you mix any metals up, because the buyer can separate it more thoroughly once you get there.
Don't worry about the size of your metal haul, as buyers will take both large and small hauls. A small haul can give you practice and let you know what to expect next time you visit the scrap metal buyer, but you will leave with more cash with a larger haul.
Recycling scrap metals is a great way to earn a few extra dollars in your spare time whenever you have it. It is also a task that can help others and help the earth.