Tips for Separating Your Metals When Bringing Them To The Recycling Center

The rise in co-mingled recycling facilities and drop-off points has made recycling very easy for people, but for anyone hoping to recycle metal (and hopefully sell it for some cash), a pile of random metal pieces just won't do. Metal recycling still requires you to separate the different types of metal, which can be difficult to do for those trying to make money off the process for the first time. However, it's the only way to effectively trade in metal because of differences in prices and the risk of contamination.

Different Prices for Different Metals

When you recycle metal, you don't just bring in a heap of metal and get a certain price per ounce or pound. Each type of metal has a different price, and these can sometimes vary wildly depending on demand. Copper, for example, tends to command a higher price than plain old steel. If you don't separate the metals, the recycling place does, and they typically don't have enough time to separate them out while still maintaining efficient customer flow. In other words, it would just take too long, and they wouldn't be able to buy as much metal back each day as they could otherwise because they'd be spending so much time sorting piles.

Some scrap yards may have services for separating out piles of metal, but you'll pay for those, and that price can make the money you get back from the yard shrink substantially. If you're totally new at this and are unsure of what metals you have — and you have a lot of metal — then it could be worth it to have the yard separate the pile if they are willing to do so. Otherwise, it's better to study up on how to distinguish one metal from another and do the separation yourself. That will also help you should you find yourself at a yard that doesn't offer a sorting service.

Unknown Metals

When you separate out metals, don't be surprised if you have some that you can't identify totally. Do what you can; see if the metal is ferrous (if it contains iron and thus attracts magnets), and try to sort the metals as far as you can by color or sheen. But keep the unknown metal in separate piles and don't toss it in with known metals just because it looks similar. Remember, steel and stainless steel look similar, but they are often priced differently at recycling yards. The same goes for stainless steel and carbon steel.

Metal recycling is good for the Earth, good for you, and good for anyone who will end up using the recycled metal. Before you take the metal to a scrap yard, call to double check about prices, the availability of sorting services, and any other yard-specific policies that you'll need to successfully recycle metal at that yard.

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