Scrap metal is one of the most valuable products you can recycle, and it encompasses so many consumer products. From appliances to batteries to cans to clothes hangers, metal is everywhere in our homes. Recycling metal is important to not only keep this limited supply material out of landfills, but also because it can make you money.
Metal Recycling Preparation
- With scrap metal, the general rule is a product needs to be at least 50 percent metal. Even if that metal is surrounded by other materials like plastic, it’s worth recycling if it’s made mostly out of metal.
- If you have products with only a small amount of metal but it’s easy to remove, separate the metal. For example, a plastic three-ring binder is not scrap metal, but remove the metal rings and now you’re talking.
- Scrap metal is classified as either ferrous (containing iron, such as steel) and nonferrous (everything else). So, you’ll want to identify whether your metal is ferrous or nonferrous. The way to do this is with a magnet. Ferrous metals stick to a magnet; nonferrous metals don’t.
- Use Earth911’s recycling directory to find a scrap metal recycler, and contact the company or visit its webpage to find out current payouts and if there’s a minimum amount of material you need to bring.
- Most scrap metal recyclers will require you to bring identification when you recycle. This is to prevent people from stealing scrap metal (e.g., road signs, metal barriers) and selling it for scrap.
Find scrap metal drop-off locations near you using our Recycling Locator.
Why Recycle Metal
- Metal is one of the few items that you can regularly recycle for money, although you’ll usually get paid by the pound. This makes it a great fundraising opportunity.
- Nonferrous scrap makes up only 10 percent of the total material recycled in the U.S., but it earns more than half of scrap recycling revenue.
- Metal is in limited supply, and while we can manufacture more glass and plastic from natural resources, we can’t make more aluminum, copper and steel.
Frequent Metal Recycling Questions
- How to Recycle a Metal Water Bottle: If you switched to a metal bottle and are looking to recycle it, we’ve got you covered
- Scrap Metal Theft: Why It Matters: Scrap metal theft is a real problem in America, as individuals risk their safety to cash in on valuable materials
- The Basics of Recycling Scrap Metal for Money: An overview of which metals will earn you the most cash when recycling
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