Every spring we enjoy a cup of free coffee. In good years it’s coffee plus free lunch. Nope, the coffee shop doesn’t skip our bill. It’s free because we’d just left the Marion Iron Company with cold cash after selling a year’s accumulation of scrounged metal.
Recycling, as most people know, is relatively new, but scrap yards have been buying and recycling metal for centuries. Here’s what we do to earn a few bucks.
We scrounge free pallets from businesses that toss them in heaps to be hauled to the landfill. Our Milwaukee circular saw cuts them into chunks that make outstanding wood stove kindling and fuel for outdoor campfires. When the ashes have cooled, we run a magnet through them, retrieve the nails, and store them in old metal paint buckets.
Picking Up Metal
Whenever we spot a chunk of metal along the road or in a parking lot, we pick it up and add it to our scrap metal trove. In some years we’ll have a couple of hundred pounds of nails and random scrap to sell.
We like selling scrap. It generates money but mostly just feels good to see our nails recycled. We envy them for their travels. Many nails are made in China and make the long journey across the ocean to eventually be used by pallet companies. We sell the reclaimed nails at the scrap yard. They ship them to a company near Chicago that melts them into solid blocks of steel. Those are bought by all sorts of companies that make thousands of products from them. So, our old nails may end up as a car, pocket knife, re-bar, or who knows what? They might even cross the ocean to be sold to a foreign steel manufacturer.
We recently learned we’re not alone. Friend, Kurt Rogahn, saves bits of aluminum. When a small pile accumulates off to recycling, they go.
We’re not getting rich selling metal. The price per pound at the scrap yard varies from year to year. If we have plenty to sell and if the price is high our old nails buy us an elegant lunch. In a poor year, it’s free coffee.
Scrap steel and iron usually bring the lowest price per pound. Aluminum, copper, and brass sell for much more.
After writing the above we delivered our metal to Marion Iron. It weighed 80 pounds, and we left with $7.00! Minutes later we were at Mr. Beans Coffee shop just down the road. Our cold cash bought us coffee and a bit more.
Recycling is the right thing to do with a free coffee bonus.