The 23 Most Profitable Items to Scrap

most profitable items to scrap

Scrapping can be a great way to make more money and increase your income. In this article, we’ll take a look at the 23 most profitable scrap metal items in order to make the most of your efforts.

From metal and electronics to building materials, you may be surprised at what you can scrap and how much it’s worth. Let’s begin!

Great choice! Let’s dive into the criteria for choosing profitable items to scrap.

Selecting Profitable Items to Scrap: Our Methodology

Scraping might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about small business opportunities, but the truth is, it’s a venture that’s often underestimated. Whether you’re considering starting a scrap yard or simply looking for ways to boost your income, understanding what makes certain items profitable to scrap is essential. At [Your Website Name], we recognize the potential in this industry, and we’re here to shed light on our methodology for selecting the most profitable items to scrap. Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions that can turn your scrap ventures into a lucrative business.

Now, let’s delve into the criteria and importance scale:

  1. Metal Content (Importance Scale: 8/10):
    • The amount of valuable metals within an item significantly impacts its profitability. Items rich in metals like copper, aluminum, brass, and steel are often more lucrative to scrap.
  2. Market Demand (Importance Scale: 8/10):
    • Understanding the current demand for specific scrap materials is crucial. Items that align with high-demand materials fetch better prices in the market.
  3. Weight and Volume (Importance Scale: 6/10):
    • Larger and heavier items may yield more profits due to their increased metal content, but consider the logistics and transportation costs when dealing with bulkier items.
  4. Accessibility (Importance Scale: 8/10):
    • Ease of access to scrap items can affect your overall profitability. Consider items that are readily available in your area or accessible through efficient sourcing methods.
  5. Processing Complexity (Importance Scale: 6/10):
    • Evaluate the effort required to process and prepare the item for scrap. Simplicity in dismantling or separating valuable materials can save time and effort.
  6. Environmental Impact (Importance Scale: 6/10):
    • Strive for environmentally friendly choices. Items that can be recycled with minimal ecological impact are not only profitable but also sustainable.
  7. Legal Considerations (Importance Scale: 8/10):
    • Comply with local and national regulations regarding scrap materials. Choosing items that align with legal requirements is essential to avoid legal hassles.
  8. Storage Space (Importance Scale: 6/10):
    • Consider the available storage space for scrap items. Ensure you can manage the volume efficiently without clutter or inconvenience.
  9. Transportation (Importance Scale: 6/10):
    • Assess the transportation logistics involved in collecting and transporting scrap items. Efficient transportation methods can optimize your profitability.
  10. Value Stability (Importance Scale: 8/10):
    • Analyze the stability of the market value for the scrap item. Items with consistent pricing trends are a safer bet for long-term profitability.

Profitable Items to Scrap

The Best Things to Scrap for Money: Scrap Metal Recycling and More!

The scrap metal industry isn’t just about recycling and saving the environment. With mobile business ideas such as how to make money with a pickup truck, junk removal franchises, and manufacturing businesses, it can also be a great way to make some extra cash.

Let’s look at the best scrap metal items and non-metals to scrap for money.

1. Aluminum and Aluminum Cans

Recycling metals like aluminum and aluminum cans can be a great way to make money. It fetches an average of $0.15 – $0.50 per pound.

2. Copper Wiring and Copper Tubing

Copper wiring and tubing are some of the most valuable items to scrap. They can earn $4.00/lb.

3. Brass

Scrapping brass offers a great return on investment at $2.30 to $2.75 per pound. It’s easy to find and durable, making it an ideal material for recycling.

4. Iron

Iron is abundant, durable, and easy to recycle yielding a decent return at $87.00/ton or $0.0435/lb.

5. Stainless steel

Resistant to corrosion and easy to recycle, it’s the perfect choice for money-savvy scrap collectors at $0.23/lb.

6. Lead

Heavy, malleable, easy to cast, and at about $1.00/lb it’s a great choice for scrap collectors.

7. Platinum Jewelry and other Precious Metals

Scrapping platinum jewelry and other precious metals is incredibly lucrative with platinum being over $990/oz, gold at $1,886/oz, and silver over $22/oz.

Profitable Items to Scrap

8. Used appliances

From supplying spare parts to reselling for refurbishment, there are plenty of ways to make money from used appliances.

9. Old tools

Old tools can be good to scrap for money due to their metal content, including steel and iron. If the tools are in decent shape, you may also be able to resell them.

10. Computer Parts

From small parts like cables and memory to entire machines, there’s always potential for profit.

11. Scrap a Junk Car or Car Parts

With metals like aluminum, steel, and copper all able to be recycled for cash, there’s potential for a good return.

12. Car Batteries

Car batteries contain valuable metals like lead, plus you can often get cash for the plastics too. The average price is $0.22/lb.

Profitable Items to Scrap

13. Ballasts

Not only are they worth up to $2.10/lb, but they take up no space, so you can make more money per square foot of scrap than many other items.

14. Nickel

With its strong price-per-pound of $2.50-$3.00 and small size, you can quickly transport nickel to a scrapping yard without much trouble.

15. Electric Motors

Scrapping electric motors can fetch $0.20-$0.25 per pound. All you need are a few tools and patience.

16. Bottles

Bottle scrapping can earn about $0.02 per bottle. All you need are some bottles and an easy-to-use recycling center.

17. Ink Cartridges

Scrapping empty ink cartridges can typically earn between $1 and $5, making it a great way to make a quick buck while also helping the environment.

18. Clothes

Getting rid of old clothes on online marketplaces like eBay, Poshmark, and thredUP is a great way to both declutter and make extra money.

19. Cast Iron Pots and Pans

Cast iron pots and pans are good to scrap for money due to their high steel content and durability, fetching around $0.06-$0.07/lb at scrap yards.

20. Air Conditioner Units

Air conditioners can be lucrative to scrap due to their copper and aluminum components. Taking it apart and selling scrap metal parts is usually more profitable.

21. Plastic Scrap

Scrapping plastic including polycarbonate, polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride, is profitable due to the high demand for recycled plastic.

22. Electric Cables and Wires

Electric cables and wires are good to scrap for money due to their copper, aluminum, and brass content.

23. Scrap Electronics (including televisions and cell phones)

Electronics like TVs and cell phones are great to scrap for money due to the valuable metals they contain, such as gold, silver, copper, platinum, and other metals.

Scrap ItemsDescriptionEstimated Value (Per Unit)
Aluminum and Aluminum CansRecycling aluminum and aluminum cans can fetch an average of $0.15 - $0.50 per pound.$0.15 - $0.50 per pound
Copper Wiring and Copper TubingCopper wiring and tubing are valuable items, earning around $4.00 per pound.$4.00 per pound
BrassScrapping brass offers a great return on investment, with values ranging from $2.30 to $2.75 per pound.$2.30 - $2.75 per pound
IronIron, abundant and easy to recycle, yields a decent return at approximately $87.00 per ton or $0.0435 per pound.$87.00 per ton or $0.0435 per pound
Stainless SteelResistant to corrosion and easy to recycle, stainless steel is valued at approximately $0.23 per pound.$0.23 per pound
LeadLead, heavy and malleable, can be recycled for cash at about $1.00 per pound.$1.00 per pound
Platinum Jewelry and Precious MetalsScrapping platinum, gold, and silver can be incredibly lucrative, with platinum over $990/oz, gold at $1,886/oz, and silver over $22/oz.Variable (per ounce)
Used AppliancesUsed appliances offer various profit avenues, from spare parts to refurbishment and resale.Variable
Old ToolsOld tools with metal content, including steel and iron, can be scrapped for money. Reselling is also an option if they're in decent shape.Variable
Computer PartsComputer parts, from small components to entire machines, can provide profit opportunities.Variable
Scrap a Junk Car or Car PartsRecycling metals like aluminum, steel, and copper from junk cars can yield a good return.Variable
Car BatteriesCar batteries contain valuable lead and plastics, with an average price of $0.22 per pound.$0.22 per pound
BallastsBallasts can be worth up to $2.10 per pound and take up minimal space, making them profitable to scrap.Up to $2.10 per pound
NickelNickel's strong price-per-pound of $2.50-$3.00 and small size make it transportable and profitable.$2.50-$3.00 per pound
Electric MotorsScrapping electric motors can fetch $0.20-$0.25 per pound, requiring only basic tools and patience.$0.20-$0.25 per pound
BottlesScrapping bottles can earn about $0.02 per bottle when recycled at a recycling center.$0.02 per bottle
Ink CartridgesEmpty ink cartridges can typically earn between $1 and $5 each, providing a quick way to make money while helping the environment.$1 - $5 each
ClothesSelling old clothes online through platforms like eBay, Poshmark, and thredUP can declutter and generate extra income.Variable
Cast Iron Pots and PansCast iron pots and pans, with high steel content and durability, can fetch around $0.06-$0.07 per pound at scrap yards.$0.06-$0.07 per pound
Air Conditioner UnitsAir conditioners, due to their copper and aluminum components, can be lucrative to scrap, especially when disassembled for metal parts.Variable
Plastic ScrapScrapping plastic, including various types like polycarbonate, polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride, is profitable due to high demand for recycled plastic.Variable
Electric Cables and WiresElectric cables and wires, containing copper, aluminum, and brass, can be profitable when scrapped for their metal content.Variable
Scrap Electronics (including televisions and cell phones)Electronics like TVs and cell phones are valuable when scrapped due to the precious metals they contain, such as gold, silver, copper, platinum, and more.Variable

The Environmental Significance of Scrapping

While the focus of scrapping is often on the financial gains it can bring, it’s essential to recognize the significant environmental benefits associated with recycling scrap materials. As the world faces increasing challenges related to climate change, resource depletion, and waste management, scrapping plays a crucial role in mitigating these issues.

1. Resource Conservation

One of the most significant advantages of recycling is its contribution to resource conservation. When you scrap materials like metals and plastics, you reduce the demand for virgin resources. Extracting and processing new resources can have a substantial environmental footprint, including habitat destruction, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions. By recycling scrap materials, you help preserve natural resources and minimize the negative ecological impacts associated with resource extraction.

2. Energy Savings

Recycling also leads to substantial energy savings. The process of extracting, refining, and manufacturing new materials from raw resources is energy-intensive. In contrast, recycling often requires significantly less energy. For example, recycling aluminum saves up to 95% of the energy required to produce the same amount of aluminum from bauxite ore. This energy efficiency reduces greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to a more sustainable energy landscape.

3. Reduction in Landfill Waste

Another critical aspect of scrapping is its role in diverting materials from landfills. Landfills are a major source of environmental pollution and emit harmful greenhouse gases, including methane, which is significantly more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of its warming potential. By recycling scrap materials, you prevent them from ending up in landfills, thereby reducing the environmental burden associated with waste disposal.

4. Decreased Pollution

Recycling also helps decrease pollution levels. The extraction and processing of raw materials can result in air and water pollution, soil degradation, and habitat destruction. In contrast, recycling processes are generally less polluting. For example, recycling paper reduces water pollution by 35% and air pollution by 74% compared to producing paper from raw materials. Similarly, recycling metals reduces air pollution by 85% for copper, 86% for lead, and 92% for aluminum compared to primary production.

Profitable Items to Scrap

Environmental Benefits of ScrappingDescription
Resource ConservationRecycling scrap materials reduces the demand for virgin resources, mitigating the negative ecological impacts of resource extraction. It helps preserve natural resources and minimizes habitat destruction, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions associated with extracting new resources.
Energy SavingsRecycling leads to substantial energy savings compared to the energy-intensive process of extracting, refining, and manufacturing new materials from raw resources. Recycling, such as aluminum recycling, can save up to 95% of the energy required for producing the same amount of material from primary sources, contributing to a more sustainable energy landscape.
Reduction in Landfill WasteScrapping diverts materials from landfills, reducing environmental pollution and emissions of harmful greenhouse gases, including potent methane. Landfills are a significant source of pollution and contribute to environmental degradation, making waste diversion crucial for sustainability.
Decreased PollutionRecycling processes are generally less polluting than the extraction and processing of raw materials. For instance, recycling paper reduces water and air pollution compared to producing paper from raw materials. Similarly, recycling metals significantly reduces air pollution, contributing to improved air quality and environmental health.

The Circular Economy and Sustainability

Scrapping aligns with the principles of the circular economy, a sustainable economic model that seeks to minimize waste and make the most of existing resources. In a linear economy, products are manufactured, used, and discarded, leading to a significant waste of materials and energy. In contrast, the circular economy promotes the continuous use, recycling, and repurposing of materials, creating a closed-loop system that reduces resource consumption and waste generation.

Scrapping contributes directly to the circular economy by reintroducing materials into the production cycle. When scrap materials are collected, processed, and reused in manufacturing, it extends the lifespan of these resources and reduces the need for new ones. This shift towards a circular economy is essential for addressing global challenges like climate change, resource scarcity, and environmental degradation.

Recycling Scrap Metal: What are Ferrous Scrap Metal and Non-Ferrous Scrap Metals?

Separate ferrous metal items (iron or steel) and non-ferrous metal (aluminum, copper, lead, nickel, titanium, and zinc alloys) in metal recycling.

Non-ferrous metals generally fetch higher prices, but it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both types to make informed decisions on which ones to focus on.

Collecting Scrap Metal for Money

Scrap metal can be sourced from businesses, home projects, construction materials, and even appliances that are no longer being used. The best places to look are garages, basements, warehouses, appliance stores, and any other place where scrap metal may be found. Don’t forget to check online classifieds as well.

Finding the Best Scrap Yard

Find the best scrap yard by researching online, reading customer reviews, asking for recommendations, and visiting the yard in person to check the quality of their services and prices for metal recycling.

Final Thoughts

Scrapping items is a great way to make money. Doing research ahead of time and having an eye for the most profitable scrap items can help maximize your profits.

Always practice safety and get advice from experts or local scrap yards before starting, so you have the best chance of success.


What is the Best Thing to Scrap Right Now?

The value of scrap metal can vary, but some of the most valuable items to scrap include copper, aluminum, brass, and high-grade steel.

Contact your local scrap yard for current market prices and to determine the most profitable items to scrap.

What Appliance Has the Most Copper in it?

Refrigerators often contain the highest amount of copper, so they can be a great source of scrap.

Copper is used in the coils and electrical wiring in the appliance, often making up to 50% of its total weight.

Appliances like washing machines, dryers, and air conditioners also contain copper but usually in lower amounts than fridges.

Is Metal Scrapping Profitable?

Metal scrapping can be a very profitable activity if you know where to look and what items to target.

Metal prices have been on the rise in recent years, making it an attractive opportunity for those with an eye for scrap.

What is the Easiest Thing to Scrap?

Aluminum cans are among the easiest items to scrap since they can be found in abundance and are lightweight for transportation.

Removing labels from cans is also easy, making them a great target for those looking to get into metal scrapping.

Can I Make a Lot of Money with Scrap Metal?

The amount of money you make scrapping metal depends on current market scrap metal prices, quantity, and quality of scrap.

A manufacturing business has the potential to generate large amounts of valuable scrap metals that can be sold for a profit, while individual scrappers can find smaller opportunities.

Be sure to check places for free scrap metal components like Craigslist or local businesses.

Image: Envato Elements

Kevin Ocasio Kevin Ocasio is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been with the team for 2 years. He holds certifications in SEO, digital marketing, and content marketing. Kevin is also certified in Information Technology Technical Support Fundamentals.