Scrap Metal Management

What Is Scrap Metal?

The Definition

  1. A small piece or amount of something, especially one that is left over after the greater part has been used.

2. “I scribbled her address on a scrap of paper discarded metal for reprocessing

“the steamer was eventually sold for scrap”

Additional Information

Put simply, scrap metal is the combination of waste metal, metallic material and any product that contains metal that is capable of being recycled from previous consumption or product manufacturing. Whether it’s vehicle parts, building supplies or surplus project materials, scrap has tremendous monetary value; so much so that the UK’s metal recycling industry is now worth upwards of £5.6 billion.

Scrap metal can originate from commercial and residential use. Whether it’s ferrous or non-ferrous metal, the processing of this into vital secondary raw material for the smelting of brand new metals is absolutely key.

These scrap metals have a high market value, with their ability to be re-used again and again. For instance, electricians might have wires and electrical equipment, plumbers are likely to have used copper piping and brass fixtures and even construction firms will have beam upon beam of steel that could be quite literally given a new lease of life.

But all too regularly these are tossed into the dump due to lack of knowledge and sources for metal recycling.


Before recycling any metals, the first important step is to determine whether a metal is ferrous or non-ferrous. This is a very straightforward process and requires only a common magnet. If the magnet sticks to your metal, it is a ferrous metal. If the metal does not stick to your magnet it is a non-ferrous metal.

The most valuable scrap metals for recycling are non-ferrous; the most common of which are those that do not contain iron and are more resistant to corrosion, including copper, brass, aluminium, zinc, magnesium, tin, lead and nickel.

Ferrous metals are less valuable to metal recyclers but they will still recoup some value if you have enough of it. This includes metals such as steel and iron. Steel can be found in so many places; from cars to chairs, cabinets, shelving and more.

From 3rd December 2012, amendments to the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 1964 made it illegal to purchase scrap metal for cash sums in England and Wales; and this regulation remains in force under the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013.It’s an offence for anyone to purchase scrap metal for cash or by any form of payment other than a crossed cheque or electronic money transfer.

It is also important to be aware that leaving scrap metal out in public view invites unwanted attention. The theft of scrap metal is growing across Europe and other areas around the world. Always be security minded when storing value materials. 

How Metal Is Recycled 

Be In The Know

Most frequent questions and answers

A scrap metal business is a local business that buys and sells scrap metal for recycling, manufacturing, and many other purposes. Tucson Iron and Metal is a full-service scrap metal business specializing in scrap metal purchase, sales, and pickup to make recycling scrap metal easier and more convenient for you.

You must:

  • Keep waste to a minimum by doing everything you reasonably can to prevent, reuse, recycle or recover waste (in that order)
  • Sort and store waste safely and securely
  • Complete a waste transfer note for each load of waste that leaves your premises
  • Check if your waste carrier is registered to dispose of waste
  • Not allow the waste carrier to dispose of your waste illegally (and report them to crimestoppers if they do)

Metal recycling helps to protect the wider environment and saves energy. The creation of secondary raw materials minimises the use of natural resources which would normally be required to make new metal compounds. That’s not to mention the many available savings in energy and reduced CO2 emissions, in production methods using recycled materials.

In most cases you can check the waste code or codes associated with your type of waste – it’ll have an asterisk if it’s hazardous.

Some waste may have both hazardous and non-hazardous entries, depending on whether it contains dangerous substances at or above certain levels.

In these cases, you must determine the waste’s composition and assess if it has hazardous properties or components before you can classify it – check the manufacturers’ product safety data sheets for this information.

Many products include orange and black danger symbols or red and white hazard. Epictograms to indicate they’re hazardous.

The price of metal goes up and down. The best way to know the price is to visit your local scrap yard and look at the range of prices. It’s important to remember that the amount you will get differs from location to location.

In practice, tradesmen, metal merchants and homeowners will visit a scrap yard to recycle their metal and be paid by the weight of metals they have.  Scrap yards will purchase these metals for recycling and processing into new metal products.  The typical price of each metal is largely dependent on its weight and the market value at the time of sale.

Most scrap yards will categorise their metals into three areas: non-ferrous, ferrous and electronics, which incorporate the following:

  • Aluminium
  • Copper
  • Brass
  • Stainless steel
  • Lead
  • Cable
  • Bronze
  • Cast iron
  • Iron
  • Steel
  • Platinum
  • Gold
  • Silver

Supporting Documents

Supporting document created by the NHS on Standard Operating Procedure for Clinical and Offensive Waste

Supporting Documents

Supporting document from BRMA on Scrap metal regulations.

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