Starting a Metal Recycling Business

starting a metal recycling business
Instead of “Where’s the Beef?“ are you always asking yourself, “Where’s the metal?“ Then, you might want to consider starting a metal recycling business. It is a great way entree into the green economy. The people who will make money off of this sector, are those who will keep their eyes open and imagination working on where the next opportunities are in collecting scrap metal. There are many environmental and economic benefits created by this type of business. Metal recyclers save metals from the landfills, and make it less necessary to have to mine new metal. There are many opportunities to “mine“ recyclable metals many have overlooked.

Job duties

When starting a metal recycling business your most important job duty will be doing the research. You will need to know the recycled value of various metals, and sources for harvesting them. You will also need to know what is involved in extracting a particular metal from a particular scrap source. A network will need to be built of businesses which buy particular scrap sources for refinement, and who will buy the extracted metals. You will need to decide whether it is more cost effective for you to extract from a particular scrap source, or have it sub-contracted out, or simply sell it to a business which handles that particular scrap source themselves. You will also need to learn how to test metals for composition and purity. In this business, it is very important to maintain spread sheets on all the costs related to recycling a metal, compared with the final selling price. Bookkeeping will be of the up most importance for the metal recycling business. You MUST find out about all the related laws and safety rules related to recycling metal.

Basic costs

You should have a pickup truck or other vehicle conducive for hauling scrap. Another important piece of equipment would be a professional electronic scale for weighing metal. The metal recycling business can be done with low overhead. You can run it out of a home office, and use your cell phone and laptop computer for your traveling office. You will need to load your computer with some good database and spreadsheet software, in addition to the word processing software. You should also retain a lawyer who knows the laws related to the metal recycling industry. As always, you should obtain the necessary permits and licenses.

Where you will be working

You can work anywhere that there are scrap yards nearby to turn in your metal.

How to start a metal recycling business tips

  • Always be thinking sources – dental scrap, film and photo scrap, are popular sources. Laws making it illegal to resell catalytic converters makes them a good source for scrap metal. Constantly do your research to discover new sources for scrap metal; and make sure you do your due diligence of any pitfalls or regulations in regards to a new scrap metal source. Automotive O2 sensors can be another good source.
  • Learn the ins and outs of each source of scrap metal – for instance, electronic scrap can be a good source, but it has its pitfalls. Research and test thoroughly before heading deep into a particular scrap market.
    Learn how to test metal content of unknown alloys – knowing how to find precious metals in alloys can give you a good edge.
  • Always look for the opportunities with disposable products – cell phones and other disposable products can be a good recycling source, but you have to do your homework.
  • Investigate the local competition – find out who is already out there recycling metal and what markets they are pursuing or dropping. Observe their business practices.
  • Talk to the competition– recyclers in another geographic market might be more likely to share information with you. But, first have information to share with them. The following link should be helpful in locating the competition:
  • Low metal prices on metals can work to your favor – when metal prices are down, the national buyers can’t afford to send out employees on buying trips to outbid small players for scrap.

Not sure about starting a metal recycling business? See a list of small business ideas

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2 thoughts on “Starting a Metal Recycling Business”

  1. Interesting information here. We started our family recycling business in Birmingham many years ago and it has gone from strength to strength. You make an excellent point about low prices (sometimes) working in your favour.

  2. Hi. Your article were very informative. I have an excelent oppertunity (market) to start a metal recycling business, but do not have any skills relating to starting a business from scratch and how to register the business. Can you maybe offer any assistance regarding the start up? Thank you.

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