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How to sort scrap metal for recycling in Massachusetts

UNITED STATES August 28 2013 10:04 PM

If you are new to scrap metal recycling, it is important to take some time to learn about the different types of metal and materials that can be brought to your local scrap metal recycling facility.

Reusing and recycling scrap metal can help to reduce the amount of materials discarded in the local landfill, and it can also help to reduce greenhouse gases caused by mining, refining and creating new materials. Plus, the scrap metal recycling industry provides local scrappers with a great way to make money by collecting and selling these discarded and unwanted materials.

Step one – Learn the different types of metal
There are two basic types of scrap metal that you need to know if you want to learn the proper sorting of scrap metal. Ferrous metals are any type of metal that contains iron. They are easy to identify because they can be checked with a simple magnet. If the magnet is attracted and "sticks" to the metal, then it is ferrous. There are different grades and types of ferrous metals as well, but learning the basic difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metal is a great place to start. Non-ferrous metals are usually more valuable than ferrous metals, including copper, aluminum, stainless steel, brass and precious metals, such as gold and platinum.

Step two – Know how to break it down
You can earn more from scrap metal recycling if you can break down the materials that you recover and sell the according to the different types of metals they contain. For example, if you were to scrap an old car it is important to remove certain items and recycle them separately. Car batteries should be removed and recycled separately because they contain caustic acid, which must be handled carefully and watched for leaks. Catalytic converters contain very valuable precious metals and should also be recycled separately from the vehicle.

Step three – Focus on valuable metals
When sorting scrap metal, it is important to know which items are the most valuable. Copper, for example, is extremely valuable in today's market. It is usually lightweight and has a reddish cast to its coloring. However, copper can also turn a greenish color due to corrosion, especially if it has been sitting in storage or outdoors for long periods of times.

Copper can be found in electrical wiring (light copper), copper tubing (medium copper, in most cases) and hot water heater tanks (heavy copper). Make sure to strip insulation off wiring, remove brass fittings from tubing (and recycle separately) and remove attached insulation from water heater tanks to maximize your earning potential at the local scrap metal recycling center.

Step four – Learn more about stainless steel
While some types of stainless steel can be very valuable as a non-ferrous metal, other types of stainless steel may not be worth as much. Stainless steel is an alloy that is mixed with chromium. As a result, it is much heavier than chrome or nickel-plated steel and has a dull shine rather than a super shiny appearance. Some stainless steel may be "slightly" magnetic, with a slight pull from the magnet. If you find stainless steel that does have a magnetic attraction, it must be recycled with the ferrous iron-based pieces, rather than with other non-magnetic stainless steel pieces in your non-ferrous metal pile.

Step five – Know all you can about aluminum
Most everyone knows that soda cans are made out of aluminum, but this metal can be found in a number of other places throughout your home or business. When sorting scrap metal items like aluminum, it is important to know what you are looking for before you get started. Soda cans and lawn furniture are known as light aluminum, while all other types of aluminum are categorized as heavy aluminum – there is no medium aluminum in the industry. When preparing to take aluminum items to your local scrap metal recycling facility, make sure to also spend time sorting scrap metal based on whether it is coated or not. Some facilities will pay more for aluminum items that are not coated or painted.

Step six – Learn your brass from your bronze
If you want to make the most from your trip to the scrap metal recycling center, make sure to know about sorting scrap metal by type and grade. Brass scrap metal is often yellow and is used most often for door knobs, trim hardware and in fancy bathroom and light fixtures. Bronze is more of a reddish colored yellow and can be found most often is use for couplings and fittings on a number of appliances and plumbing applications. Remove any hoses or tubes before taking to the local scrap metal recycling center.

Step seven – Get to know your local scrap metal recycling folks
Visit your local scrap metal recycling center in Westport to find out even more tips and tricks that will help you to make more money from your ferrous and non-ferrous metal. Mid City Scrap Iron & Salvage serves residential, commercial, industrial and municipal customers throughout the Southeastern Massachusetts, Cape Cod and Rhode Island region. The more you know and the more experience you gain in the sorting scrap metal, the more money you'll be able to make from scrap metal recycling.
Courtesy: Mid City Scrap

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