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Need Some Extra Income? Consider Appliance and Scrap Metal Recycling

pile of scrap metal
If you're like many working adults, you may at some point find that your household income and spending levels don't quite match up, leaving you in need of some quick ways to earn extra cash. Recycling old appliances, farm or garden equipment, or even aluminum soda cans can provide you with the cash flow you need, but you may quickly run out of your own items to recycle. 
Fortunately, you may be able to continue this inflow of extra income for the foreseeable future by reaching out to your friends, relatives, or even strangers and offering to pick up and transport their scrap metal and old appliances to your neighborhood recycling center. By paying your "clients" a predetermined amount out of your own pocket, you'll be able to secure a tidy profit on each piece of scrap metal you bring to your local metal recycling center while also helping them declutter. 
Read on to learn more about the metal recycling process and how you can get started.

Understanding How Metal Recycling Works

Scrap metal recycling companies are designed to separate, sort, and then process a variety of types of scrap metal, from more utilitarian metals like tin and aluminum to precious metals like copper and gold. Once the center has broken down metal objects into their component parts and any foreign items have been removed, these metals can be smelted, remolded and used to create new products. 
Because most appliances and pieces of machinery contain a range of different metals, each of which must be processed separately, crushing these appliances is often the most efficient way to conduct the sorting process. 
After a piece of equipment has been thoroughly crushed, its pieces can be strewn across a conveyor belt, where a heavy-duty magnet can pick out any ferrous metals. Workers sort non-ferrous metals by hand and discard any unusable scraps of metal, plastic, or rubber.
Most metal recycling companies will pay by weight, based on the current market price of the component metals and reduced to account for processing and shipment fees. For example, a clothes dryer may weigh 200 pounds but only contain 50 pounds of recyclable aluminum, a fairly low-dollar metal. It may take some trial and error (or internet research) before you're able to quickly and accurately pinpoint the price you can expect for many common appliances.

Getting Started

If you'd like to avoid much of the trial and error associated with getting started in scrap metal recycling, you'll want to get some idea of how much you can expect to gain from each recycled appliance before you begin scouting. You may even want to begin looking on "freecycle" sites to better gauge the most common types of metal available for recycling.
In some cases, you may find that the exertion needed to get heavy appliances to the recycling center isn't worth the cost you're able to recoup. By that same token, if those for whom you're recycling expect close to fair market resale value for their appliances, there may not be much (if any) excess from which to take your profit. On the other hand, those who are planning to throw this metal away anyway may be willing to give it to you for recycling with no expectation of payment in return.  
By getting a price sheet that provides the approximate metal content of some common appliances and keeping up to date on current scrap metal prices, you'll be able to more easily determine which recycling projects are worth your time. 
Once you've done some preliminary research into scrap metal prices and availability, you'll have the knowledge you need to be successful in the metal recycling business -- even if you're just pursuing this as a side gig rather than a means of regular income.