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Answers to Common Questions About Scrap Metal and Recycling

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Using and recycling scrap metal is a great choice; recycling centers create jobs that are difficult to outsource, which then supports your local economy. Using and recycling metal keeps those pieces out of landfills and also cuts down on harvesting materials for new metal, which is also good for the environment. If you're thinking of using or recycling scrap metal, note a few questions you might have about the process and about scrap metal in general.

Do you need a permit to recycle metal? 

A recycling center will of course need a permit for their business, and if you're thinking of recycling metal for a living or an extra income, your city clerk's office can tell you if you need a business permit or some type of business name. If you keep scrap metal on your property for taking to a recycling center, you might also face zoning issues as this might be considered conducting a business from your home; your city clerk's office can also tell you about zoning for your property .

Why are some metal items restricted from being recycled?

A recycling center might restrict some metal items simply because it's likely that they're stolen; this might include manhole covers, shopping carts, and copper wiring. You may need to provide proof of ownership of these items if you want them recycled, but usually a recycling center will set up a business account with the businesses that own these items, including the city that provides manhole covers and local supermarkets. Other items may have hazardous materials inside; this might include air conditioners or refrigerators, which include coolant that is very dangerous and often difficult to drain. Each recycling center is different in their regulations and restrictions, so be sure you ask about anything that can't be recycled before you start collecting.

Is scrap metal safe to use for home projects?

If you're looking to buy scrap metal from a recycling center, note the amount of cleaning or prep work they offer. Some centers will run metal through an acid bath to remove rust and paint, and this can make metal very safe. Others may not do this, so you need to look for signs of hidden rust around corners of metal pieces. As with anything you might buy used, you also need to take the time to inspect each individual piece, as they will vary in how much wear and tear they've suffered. If you do take time to shop, you might find that recycled metal is just as durable and acceptable for a home project as new metal.