Do you have a pick-up truck, or know someone who does? Then you might want to consider scrap metaling as a way to earn some extra money. Not only does this offer a ‘hobby’ income stream, (potentially helping you pay off your truck loan faster) but it is also an environmentally sound way to reuse a natural resource.
I personally do not own a truck, nor do I know someone who does. So I decided to recycle a month’s worth of coca-cola cans (about a paper bag and a half—yes, my fiance is addicted), and see how much I could get for them. My true intention was to obtain information on how to scrap metal for real, and how much money you could make from it.
I contacted Jason at Cameron Recycling located in Alvin, Texas to find some of the answers to my questions. A quick glimpse at their website shows a laundry list of metals Cameron will purchase, such as: copper, aluminum, cans, stainless brass, A/C reefers, autos, iron and steel, but I asked Jason for a more consumer-friendly list. Cameron will purchase your empty cans of soda, any major appliances such as dryers/washers, and they will even take your car. And don’t be worried about not having enough metal to offer; I asked Jason what his typical customer is like, and he said that he/she is just a normal person with both large and small quantities of metal to sell.
So how much can you expect to be paid? At the time of the interview (early June), Cameron is offering $0.36 per pound of cans. This is a significant drop from last summer’s high of $0.85 per pound of cans, but a nice jump from January 2009’s average of $0.20 per pound. Jason explained that the market does vary, especially when one of the scrap metal market’s biggest customers—China—does not have as much demand. China is suffering with the current recession as well, and so their demands for metal have decreased sharply compared to their normal rate. For some ball park figures, a typical vehicle will reap you around $100-$150, while a washer may only bring in between $3-$5.
After talking with Jason, I decided to bring my own cans in and go through the process to see what it entails for my readers. It was very simple. I walked in without an appointment on a Saturday morning. There was someone working in the warehouse who we brought our bags of cans to. He weighed them on a large scale, and printed out a ticket for me to take to the front desk. Jason, the person I had interviewed over the phone, happened to be working that day, and he gave me my earnings: $0.75. I was in and out of there in five minutes.
Now, $0.75 is not much (it was enough to buy a red bell pepper from the local farmer’s market in Alvin—Froberg’s), but you can make a sizable side income by doing this. My sister’s husband typically receives $100 per pickup truck load. Here are some of his strategies to help get you started finding free metal:
- Bulk trash pick-up day is when a lot of people put out old appliances/scraps for pickup (call your trash service or township to find out the date for your area)
- Craigslist—look in the free section, or place an ad for free detailing the types of scrap metal/appliances you are willing to pick up
- Place an ad in a newspaper or on line to pick-up unwanted, used appliances (you will probably get more responses than you think)
- Put an ad on the bulletin board at an apartment complex building (with people consistently moving in and out you might find some who want to ditch appliances before moving)
If you have a place to store your scrap metal finds, you may wish to build a stockpile until the scrap metal market price goes back up.
As an afterthought, I asked Jason a question that’s been on my mind since I was a child. What does the 5¢ can deposit in Maine and a few other states printed on the side of a can of soda mean? Jason explained that when you buy a can of soda in those states you pay a deposit of 5¢. When you return the can afterwards, you get back that deposit. Sounds like a system that entices recycling!