3 Tips for Sorting Your Scrap Metal

Effectively sorting your scrap metal before turning it in makes the entire recycling process easier. It provides a clear picture of what you have, giving you the information needed to get the best return on your investment. Recycling partners like Sikora Metals provide many resources to help with your sort, including pick-up and unloading services. Here are three tips for sorting your scrap metal:

1. Educate Yourself

Knowing your local recycling regulations can help prevent potentially wasted effort. Different cities and municipalities may enact laws encouraging or limiting the recycling of certain materials based on local needs and environmental concerns. This is significant for recycling preparation, as federal and local regulations may have initiatives in place to manage the impact that cleaning metal has on air, soil, and water quality.

Your recycling partner will have their own rules regarding metal preparation. These rules help make sure the metal is free from hazards such as sharp edges, chemicals, or other materials that could pose risks to workers. Additional rules are enacted to encourage safe material handling, such as requiring that cars have their gas tanks removed prior to being turned in. Some companies offer space for you to clean and sort on-site according to their requirements. They may also have members of their staff available to assist with safe unloading. Sikora Metals provides both of these services for our clients.

Current market prices are readily available for most recyclable materials. Understanding these prices allows you to research which recycling companies offer the most competitive pricing. At Sikora Metals, we are consistently available to discuss market conditions and answer pricing questions over the phone. This knowledge enables you to focus on the materials that will deliver the most profit for your business’s recycling efforts.

2. Separate Ferrous and Non-ferrous Materials

Some scrap metal dealers will require you to separate ferrous and non-ferrous materials. Ferrous metals contain any amount of iron, while non-ferrous materials contain none. A simple way to distinguish the two is to perform a magnet test. Place a magnet up against the metal; if it’s ferrous, it will be magnetic. Ferrous and non-ferrous metals should then also be sorted based on type.

Common non-ferrous metals include copper, brass, and aluminum. Copper is routinely among the most valued recycled metals. You can distinguish copper by its signature reddish color, though worn copper will typically have a dark brown hue. Brass contains both zinc and copper, which results in a yellow color. Aluminum can be distinguished by its silver color and its lightweight properties when compared to other metals.

Steel is one of the most common ferrous metals submitted for recycling. Understand there is a difference between structural steel and stainless steel, as the latter contains nickel and places it in the non-ferrous category. An easy way to distinguish the two is that stainless steel is more resistant to rust and corrosion. Cast and wrought iron are two other common ferrous materials accepted by scrap metal dealers. Cast iron typically has a rough surface texture, while wrought iron is smoother and may be polished to a shiny finish.

3. Research, Streamline, Transport

Recycling companies often grade out metals based on cleanliness, with higher grades fetching better prices. Take this into account when sorting and separating out clean metals from those that are old and corroded. “Cleaning” can also have different meanings in the context of metal recycling. Some materials are considered clean once you’ve removed any excess screws and magnetic pieces. Research whether your chosen recycling partner places an emphasis on cleaning scrap before turning it in.

We also recommend that you avoid simply placing your sorted metal into piles. It’s easy for piles to become intermixed during transport, effectively undoing all the effort that went into your sort. You can avoid this potential problem by placing your sorted metals into their own individual bins. Doing this also makes it easier to unload your metal upon arrival at the recycling plant.

The right recycling partner can take the work you’ve put into prepping your scrap metal and make the recycling process even easier. When needed, you can have dumpsters and containers delivered to you and then picked up once all your metal has been sorted and collected. Recyclers like Sikora Metals also offer to transport the metal themselves. We have a fleet of trucks, drivers, and roll-off containers to accommodate your larger jobs. Contact us today to learn more about our recycling services.