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How to Find Scrap Metal

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Selling scrap metal helps clean up the environment and can be a source of extra cash. Metal recyclers buy scrap iron, copper, zinc and other metals, paying by the pound. Most state laws require you to show identification when you sell your scrap, and some may require you to sign an affidavit that you legally own the scrap. This is an attempt to combat the problem of people stealing items to sell for scrap. There are plenty of legal ways to obtain scrap metal to sell.

Know the Law

Before you start hauling the scrap metal you find to the recycler, research your local laws. Some states require scrap recyclers to have a license. For instance, the state of Washington requires anyone operating a scrap metal collection business to have a license and to display special plates on the vehicle used to haul the scrap. In some municipalities, you need permission to take anything that people have set out on the curb. Other areas require scrap in the bed of a pickup truck or loaded onto a trailer to be covered by a tarp. Otherwise, you might face a fine for littering. Contact the local trash disposal agency and ask about laws pertaining to scrap collection.

Ask Permission

Driving around your neighborhood on trash pickup day, you may spot many kinds of scrap metal by the curb, from old metal lawn chairs to discarded lawn mowers. Many municipalities have laws against taking anything from a trash pile, so before you help yourself, knock on the door and ask residents if they mind if you take their scrap. As long as you don’t make a mess, many people won’t mind if you haul away the scrap metal.


Put a small ad in a local paper or a notice pinned to bulletin boards around town offering to haul away metal objects such as old appliances for free. Include a contact number. This can yield scrap from people who are doing spring cleaning or preparing their homes for sale. You can also distribute business cards to local real estate agents, movers and house cleaners offering to clean out any scrap metal their clients need to get rid of.

Ask Businesses

Businesses may pay you to take their scrap metal, or you may be able to pick it up for free. Auto mechanics, HVAC businesses and plumbers usually have a lot of scrap metal to dispose of. While some of these businesses prefer to recycle their own scrap and keep the proceeds, other businesses don’t want the hassle of collecting and hauling the metal. Set a schedule for picking up scrap and be neat and on time if you want repeat business.