07 May 2018

A Complete Guide To Making Money From Selling Scrap Metal

by Dave

As our fascination with the recycling industry has grown, more and more people are finding that selling scrap metal is a great way to make a tidy profit plus do their bit for the environment. If this is the sort of venture you would like to explore in the near future, ensuring that you make as much money as possible is likely to be your top priority. Read our guide to learn more.


What kinds of metals are there?

Basically, they fall into one of two categories – ferrous and non-ferrous. Ferrous are any that contain iron or iron alloys (such as stainless steel). This comprises most of the scrap that people find. Non-ferrous are all the others (such as aluminium, copper, lead, nickel, tin, titanium and zinc plus their alloys, such as brass). These are the more valuable ones.

How much is scrap actually worth?

This is a difficult question for us to answer, as the can prices change on a daily (in some cases, even hourly) basis. On average, ferrous items will fetch you around 10 cents per pound, bare copper will fetch you around $2.85 per pound and aluminium will fetch you around 50 cents per pound. The other metal types will fall somewhere in between copper and aluminium.

If you are looking to dispose of physical items, however, you’ll find that the prices can differ again. Washing machines will generally fetch you between $18 and $22, refrigerators with top freezers will fetch you between $16 and $18, side-by-side refrigerators will fetch you between $24 and $28, and ovens and ranges will fetch you between $11 and $18.

Can you make a living selling scrap?

Yes! It’s not uncommon for a collector to make upwards of $100 or even $200 per day from selling scrap metal. It can be hard work, but it can also be very rewarding. You will be surprised at the sorts of items that people want to get rid of at any cost – they’re basically giving away hundreds of dollars when they let you haul such items from their property for free.

What are the best collection methods?

There are a number of ways that you can collect scrap to sell. Some of the best methods include: checking the Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace free sections and establishing a recurring network of sources (such as a maintenance person or contractor). It’s also a good idea to not simply scrap everything that you find – some items can be fixed up and resold for even higher profit.

When actually selling scrap metal to the yard, they will pay you in one of three ways – cash on the spot, a cheque or a bank transfer. In a bid to curb theft (which is a common issue for non-ferrous metals, particularly copper), yards will no longer be paying cash from May 2018. You will also be required to show ID when making a sale so that all transactions can be tracked.