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Heavy Storms, Extreme Weather and Aluminum Salvage and Recycling Opportunities for the Home Based Recycler

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Heavy Storms, Extreme Weather and Aluminum Salvage and Recycling Opportunities for the Home Based Recycler

The other day I received the following email:

"Hi Mike, there were heavy storms through here this week and I am assuming that there is a lot of aluminum to be scrapped. Should I contact any individual, residential agent? Are some better than others? Are any buyers better than others? I also need to know, for the aluminum scrapping what tools do I need? What about transportation? I am assuming that my HHR is too small. True? Do I need a full-sized truck? Something smaller? I really need your help getting started."

My response:

Hi - I'm not sure what an HHR is, but a small truck and/or small trailer will work fine for hauling aluminum scrap - it's relatvely light compared to iron.

The aluminum sheet used on trailers and awnings is normally approximately 4' by 8 or 10'. It is often dirty, meaning that it has screws and caulking on the edges. To get the best price it must be cleaned. Simple hand tools do the job. I use battery powered drills with various attachments to remove screws and pliers and utility knives for the caulk, although you can sell it dirty but you'll get much less per pound.

You may also run into structural pieces - channel, angle, tubing. You should be able to easily break this down to size to fit in your vehicle. I often run these pieces under my small truck and lift up using the bumper to bend them. aluminum is brittle so a couple of bends will do it.

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As far as selling, I wouldn't go to local recyclers. They'll try to pay you almost nothing for anything but cans and bottles. You need to locate a major scrap metal yard in your area. The bigger the better. You'll get the best prices from them.

I'd contact managers of large mobile home parks where you see damage, local insurance agents, remodeling and repair conractors. Often these contractors just want to get rid of the scrap and welcome your coming and getting it out of their way. These guys are also a great source of reusable building materials, lumber, plumbing, etc.

More thoughts:

I looked up HHR and I believe the writer is talking about a small Chevy retro looking SUV. If that's right, you can't get a lot of aluminum sheet and scrap inside, but you can use it to haul the tools you need and it will also pull a light trailer nicely. I often use a 4x8 trailer I purchased as a kit from Harbor Freight. I got their heavy duty model that will haul 1700+ pounds on sale for $299. I like it because it tilts as well so it's very handy for winching things up on it using and electric winch or come along.

Finding the best scrap metal dealer takes some research. Start by Googling "scrap metal dealer yourtown" and also check your local yellow pages. It's best to take a day and visit the various listings checking out their prices, conditions like minimum amounts, do they buy dirty as well as clean scrap, etc. If you can, check the listings out before you need them so that when the time comes, you know exactly what you are going to do with the scrap you collect and can move fast, possibly taking in multiple loads per day. The faster you turn it over, the more you will make and the more cash you will have available for other opportunities. See also: High profits come from turning over your recycled and salvage material as quickly and as often as possible.

Over time you may find that you need a larger vehicle. In most of my work I do fine with an older Nissan 4x4 pickup and the Harbor Freight trailer. I have larger trucks and trailers at my disposal, but rarely use them except for larger loads of lumber, structural steel and the like.

You may also want to check out my article, Make Money in Aluminum Recycling & Salvage: Winter Storms Bring Recycling Profits.

Click here to learn how you can make the money that you need and want in this home-based business.

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Michael Meuser bootstrapped his way into the salvage and recycling business in the early 1980s. He began with building deconstruction and scrap metals and then moved into electronics, computer and telecommunications scrap where he learned to recover gold and other precious metal.
Michael tells his story, provides resources and offers his advice at his website, RecyclingSecrets.com, and his blog, Recycling Secrets Blog. Recently Mike completed the eBook How to Make Money in the Home Based Salvage and Recycling Business. It is a chronicle of his experiences, successes and failures in the business. Also, you can follow Michael on Twitter.

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