The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Dealing in Scrap Metal

22 January 2016
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Recycling scrap metal is a good way to protect the environment, as it can be very disturbing to the ground to extract virgin materials. Dealing in scrap metal may also mean earning money from a local scrap yard, but you might note a few commonly asked questions about the process first. Be sure you cover these with any scrap yard before you decide to visit them with a truck full of scrap so there are no surprises once you arrive.

1. Why aren't prices for metals easily found online and elsewhere?

Metal is like any other natural commodity in that its value will fluctuate every single day, based on its overall supply and a number of other factors. This is why scrap yards rarely post prices online, although some might post what they are paying for certain metals for that day. This can make it more difficult for you to plan when you're going to bring your scrap metal to a recycling center, but not knowing the prices or value well in advance is somewhat standard in the industry.

2. Do scrap yards buy cars?

This will of course vary according to each scrap yard, but be prepared to be told by many yards that whole cars are not accepted. One reason for this is to cut down on the risk of stolen cars being sold to a scrap yard, but another reason is that many recycling centers don't have the tools and materials needed to actually take apart an entire car. There are many that will still buy individual car parts such as catalytic converters, quarter panels, doors, and the like.

However, some scrap yards will take an entire car if you have proof of ownership and if they work as an auto parts junkyard as well. If you're thinking of investing in a tow truck or in reselling junked cars, call local scrap yards and ask before making any assumptions about recycling entire cars.

3. What is E-scrap?

If you see the term "E-scrap" when looking into metal recycling, note that this refers to electronic pieces that contain recyclable materials. Often this will include CPU towers and internal circuit boards and other such computer pieces. However, be sure you ask a scrap yard what they accept by way of E-scrap. Some will not take items like printers and keyboards because they don't have enough actual metal inside. These items might be recycled by an electronics store but not always accepted by a metal scrap yard, so don't assume that E-scrap means every piece of electronic equipment.