Bad news sells – so it makes sense that whenever the scrap metal scene hits the headlines, it’s due to someone illegally scavenging metal from railways, stealing cabling or removing manhole covers – all to make a quick quid.
But working in the scrap metal trade shouldn’t get a bad rep because of a few greedy individuals. Scrappers are habitual recyclers! They help us protect the environment by saving nondegradable materials from landfill – ensuring metals are used over and over again.
Scrappers benefit from setting their own hours, working full-time or part-time to suit their needs. These flexible working arrangements can work around a second job, family commitments or studies. The start-up costs can be quite modest for what can become a very lucrative business. But there are steps to consider before hitting the streets on search for treasure.
Becoming a licenced scrap metal merchant
To collect scrap metal, you need to register with your local council and obtain a mobile collector’s licence. This licence must be renewed every three years and there is a licence fee to pay. Your mobile collector’s licence must be legible and displayed on any vehicle used in conjunction with your scrap metal business.
You also have a responsibility to keep meticulous records of all your dealings – including collection, sale and disposal – to protect you from illegal activity by other dishonest scrap metal dealers.
Failure to hold a valid mobile collector’s licence could lead to a £5,000 fine and unlawful operations can lead to further fines and jail time.
Scrap metal goldmines
Once you’ve acquired your mobile collector’s licence and method of transportation, you need to know where to look for scrap metal. A licence does not give you unlimited access to skips, building sites and abandoned junk on the roadside. Familiarise yourself with proper practice to avoid the penalties of scrap metal misconduct.
Diving into dumpsters
Houses with skips, scaffolding or obvious signs of refurbishment could be prime locations for scrap metal collection. Scouring the streets for scrap metal may be time consuming, but you’ll start to build a network of contacts and identify scrap metal hot spots.
But be careful where you rummage! You may think you’ve happened upon a treasure trove of scrap metal with hard rubbish left for collection – but sieving through others’ trash can land you in trouble with a hefty fine to pay. Make sure to ask permission from the owner before you plunge in for your plunder, and never trespass onto private property.
Scavenging spare car parts
When a car has revved its last, its parts can be sold for scrap metal. But when do you know if a car is ready for the scrapheap? Recycling a car for scrap happens when there are serious signs of structural or mechanical wear and tear that no amount of care and attention can heal, or if the cost of upkeep is too high and starting to outweigh the cost of buying new.
It’s important to remember the law is more complex around vehicle scrapping. Singleton’s operate to the End of Life Vehicles Regulations 2003 which is in place to protect the environment and promote recycling. Find out more about scrapping a car on our website.
Befriending the builders
If you have contacts in construction and suitable methods of transportation, you may be able to orchestrate a mutually profitable arrangement where you transport scrap from the construction site to a scrapyard to sell on.
Construction sites are dependable locations, generating plenty of scrap to be sieved through. When digging through the debris, look out for any non-ferrous metals that aren’t magnetic (like aluminium, brass and copper). These are often worth considerably more than ferrous metals.
Again, obtain permission before accessing a construction site for scrap metal. This is vital not only to stay on the right side of the law, but also for your own safety as construction sites can be dangerous places without the proper safety equipment and knowledge of the area.
Scouring social media
It may seem like an odd way to search for scrap but finding scrap metal online is an alternative or addition to making the rounds in your van. The introduction of social media and trading websites have made scrapping accessible to everyone.
Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and eBay are all popular trading platforms where people sell on their second-hand goods for profit. Whether you’ve found larger kitchen appliances, an old metal bed frame or timeworn antique – if you can get the right price, there’s a profit to be made.
Uncover treasures in your household junk
You can scrap household junk for their valuable metals, be it broken toasters for the copper wiring, rusty pots and pans, blunted gardening tools or old, decrepit patio furniture. While collecting the small amounts of copper wiring in a coffee maker may seem inefficient at face value, it can soon amount to an impressive sum.
Separating the gold from the garbage
You’ll have to sift through a lot of trash to find the treasure, so spend some time familiarising yourself with different metals (ferrous and non-ferrous) and their value – there are plenty of online resources or you can contact the Singleton’s Scrap Metal team for further details on scrap metal recycling.
Safety when handling scrap metal
We should mention that it’s important to handle your scrap metal with care. If you’re new to scrap metal collection, please be advised that you may be handling very heavy or sharp items. Always lift with your knees, dress appropriately for outdoor work (consider a hi-vis coat) and invest in some hardwearing gloves.
Our previous blog on working with scrap metal safely offers some good tips for beginners and seasoned scrappers.
Selling your scrap metal
We offer a collection service, with a variety of skip sizes available for hire. Our popular drive-in service allows scrappers to roll up with a car or van full of scrap, leave it with us to be sorted, weighed, tested and recycled – with our on-the-spot electronic payment system ensuring you get paid promptly, fairly and conveniently.
We offer free testing and analysis of your scrap metal on site, ensuring you get the best prices. We even take care of your waste, as anything that can’t be recycled will be safely disposed of on our site.
Scrap metal prices change daily. Singleton’s Scrap Metal pays top prices for recycling all your scrap metal and encourage you to phone us for the latest prices. Get in touch.Back to all blog posts