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Make Money in Aluminum Recycling & Salvage: Winter Storms Bring Recycling Profits

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Make Money: Aluminum Recycling & Salvage
Winter Storms Bring Recycling Profits
by Mike Meuser

January 28, 2010

Winter storms and extreme weather make a lot of aluminum available for recycling and reuse. Mobile home and trailer awnings are particularly susceptible to damage beyond repair. I found that many folks are very happy to just get the damaged material out their yards. Some will want to be paid a bit for the scrap.

I placed ads in freebie newspapers in the area and also posted signs on bulleting boards saying that I wanted damaged or unwanted used awnings and trailer skirting. I also contacted all the insurance companies in the area and left them a little handout saying the same. Nowadays, also postings on your local Craigslist and Freecycle makes sense.

Note that even though the awnings are damaged beyond repair in the eyes of those giving up the material, it doesn't mean that it's useless. Some of the larger parts of the frame are made of nice aluminum extrusions that are useful for other applications and easily resold for more than their scrap value. Same goes for some of the apparatus associated with the awnings.

This is NOT the sort of material that you want to take to the local recycler that normally deals in cans and plastics. My experience is that they will either not take it at all or offer you little or no money for it.

This is the sort of material that you want to hang onto until you have a trailer or pickup load. The best place to sell this scrap is to large metal salvage yards in big cities. But there's work to do before you haul it in or you'll get less than the best price. Sorting and cleaning is what it's all about.

There are different prices for different types of aluminum including: painted sheet, sheet with insulation (like trailer walls), extrusions (most tubing, channels, angles), aluminum with some iron, aluminum with lots of iron, auto transmissions without torque converters, aluminum auto wheels... You need to go to a couple of large metal scrap yards and learn what they will pay for the various types of aluminum and what the parameters are. Beware though, some yards will try to under pay you. So the more you know or the more you act like you know, the better.

So, ideally you want your aluminum scrap to be as clean as possible - no wood or plastic attached and as little iron as possible. Aluminum is easy to work so it's not to difficult, using a minimum of tools, to break, tear, or shear off portions that have wood, plastic or metal attached. Once it is all cleaned as much as possible, sort it into bundles, barrels and buckets and take them to the metals scrap yard that you have the best "gut" feeling about.

You may also want to try several yards with the same load and see what they'll offer per pound for the various types of aluminum you have. This is a good idea because you'll run into all sorts of people at the scrap yards and the more you meet, the more likely you are to find someone who will really help you get the most from your scrap now and in the future.

This is part of an ongoing series documenting my experience in and thoughts about the future of the recycling and salvage business.

Visit RecyclingSecrets.com and the Recycling Secrets Blog for more information about recycling, reuse and salvage.

Mike Meuser
2010 is our year!!

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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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