Metal Scrappers

Metal Scrappers are all over South Minneapolis.  And I really don’t understand how it’s worth the effort.  They must know something I don’t.  After my recent bathroom remodel, I ended up with some scrap metal – a steel bathtub, some copper pipe, some iron vent pipes, and several other scraps of various metals.  My first thought was, “How the heck am I going to get rid of this?”  We were already having a hard time getting rid of the rest of our construction garbage.  The last thing I wanted to do was make another trip to the transfer station to drop it of.  
So I drug all the scrap metal out into the alley knowing that one of the scrappers would take it off my hands.  Then I thought, “Wait, maybe I should figure out how much this is worth – maybe it IS worth it to drive it somewhere and sell it.” So I drug everything back into the garage and made some phone calls.  I was quoted a price of $40/ton for steel from Scrappy’s Recycling Express – and told that they wouldn’t even touch it if I didn’t have at least 500 lbs.  When I learned that I would earn the large sum of $3 for my steel tub at Scrappy’s, I promptly drug the pile of metal back out into the alley to let someone else deal with it.
Sure enough, that tub didn’t last more than an hour before it disappeared into the back of a pickup truck.
The scrappers are both convenient and frustrating at the same time.  It’s a convenient way for me to get rid of metal I don’t want – and I’d rather see my waste metal recycled than end up in a landfill.  But there are a few annoying things about it, too.  Mostly, they don’t only take things you’ve placed out for them – they savagely rummage through stuff on your property looking for metal to STEAL – and they make a mess for you to clean up while they’re at it.  Once, I placed an old gas BBQ grill in the alley for someone to take.  Sure enough, they took it, but not before dumping out all the ashes right in the middle of the driveway for me to clean up.  I was sooooo angry.  I totally would have slashed their tires had I known who did it.
And then there’s the way they steal all the aluminum cans I set out for the city to collect every other thursday – money going into their pockets that I intended to be used by the city to help cover the costs of trash collection – thus increasing the cost of citywide trash collection.
So what do these scrappers know that I don’t?  Are they getting more than the $40/ton I was quoted?  How does the economics make sense?  How long do they have to drive up and down the alleys before they get a pickup load?  Assuming they’re packing their 1/2 ton pickup truck with a full ton of metal, are they really only getting $40?  And that covers the cost of driving their 1975 Ford pickup up and down the alley every night and leaves some left over as profit?  Just seems like they’d be better off with a minimum wage job…  Am I only fueling a thieving industry of vagabonds when I place unwanted metal in the alley where I know the scrappers will find it?

5 comments to Metal Scrappers

  • in all honesty, you and mel need to set something out and hide. when some vagabond comes by, you should jump out in your dinosaur costumes and scare the jeepers out of them. that would be tons better than slashing someone's tires. i mean, everyone does that. 🙂

  • Somehow, there's gotta be something fishy going on. The thriving metropolis of Los Lunas, NM, doesn't have recycyling pick-up (Albuquerque has very little), but I'm happy to say the city added bins a few years ago where we can recycle newspaper, cardboard, magazines (which is a big deal because they tend to clog recycling machines, or so said the BYU recycling guy back in the day)and aluminum. It would be nice if there were also facilities for steel and glass, but this is a vast improvement for my little village. Anyway, I sort my trash and periodically take loads into town for recycling, but I generally take my aluminum to a "Cash for Cans" place. The people I go to are nice, but I'm not sure I trust them. First of all, it doesn't really matter how many large bags of crushed cans I bring– they always want to give me $1.25. Total. In the mean time, there are always these shady looking dudes with copper wire and old car batteries who get loads. Copper is mighty expensive and while I was builing my house, my dad camped out to make sure people didn't snip it off where my plumber had stubbed out the pipes for the rough-in. A construction worker I know, Manny, tells me he just throws aluminum cans from the jobsites in the back of his pickup until the bed is full, and then drops them off for about 50 bucks. Still, his truck is small, and somehow I'm thinking he's going to a place who doesn't always tell him $1.25.

  • Rory

    Remember how we tried to make a little extra cash on the mission by collecting aluminum cans we found? I'm pretty sure that was your idea!

  • Raina, I think you're onto something.

    Rachel, it sounds like you're having as much luck with your aluminum recycling as Rory and I did on our missions.

    Rory, I had completely forgotten about that. That DOES sound like something I would think of. Honestly, I'm not nearly as much of a tightwad as I used to be. Did we ever make even one cent off that stupid plan?

  • Rory

    I doubt it considering that the majority of the cans we had came from pounds of Mountain Dew you bought. I remember that we did cash them in once, but it seems like it was a pretty scanty amount we received.