Places to Find Scrap Metal

Here are some leading as well as unusual places to find scrap metal.

Old retail carts, shelving and wire display stands from local businesses can be a source of scrap. SuzanneGoodwyn, Getty Images

Are you interested in becoming a scrap metal collector or scrap metal vendor? While some locations where you can find scrap are fairly obvious, there are also sources that many novice scrappers might not consider. In 2018, only 34% of scrap metal in U.S. municipal solid waste facilities was recycled, so a lot of material is still urgently in need of recovery. Whether winning the more visible material or tapping into those otherwise unnoticed sources, the secret of making a profit with scrap metal is to establish a regular supply. Here is a list of popular places to find scrap metal.

Local Businesses

It is common for small-scale repair shops to have a lot of metal parts and appliances that they want removed from their property to free up space. Amcep Metals also points out that you should check out your local auto repair shops, as opposed to the large chains.

Be sure to look behind the fence in the industrial areas of your community. Smaller manufacturing facilities and warehouses often have "bone yards" behind their facilities where they may have obsolete machinery, obsolete conveyors, damaged steel pallet racking, or other unwanted metal that they are too busy to manage, yet taking up valuable space. A lot of businesses will be happy to have you haul their scrap away.

Retail outlets also periodically remodel and wish to get rid of old steel shelving, damaged shopping carts, or old metal display units. You can visit your neighborhood shops, hand out your calling cards, and let them know that you’re available when it comes to removing scrap metal immediately. Over time, you should be able to build a healthy rapport with your neighborhood repair shops. Don’t forget to emphasize that you offer this service free of cost and at a time of their choosing.

Construction and Renovation Sites

Before you choose a construction site as your source, you need to understand that you should never take items from construction sites—not even from dumpsters on the property—without prior written permission because you might open yourself to accusations of scrap theft. Moreover, if you do manage to work with a construction contractor or company, it could be a win-win situation for you; you can help clean up the debris on all their projects while generating a substantial source of scrap metal.

Establishing networks with renovation tradespeople like plumbers, HVAC repair technicians, and electricians can also be a great way of expanding your scrap metal business when combined with your free pickup services.

Shooting Ranges

If there is a public or private shooting range located near your area, brass shells can be gathered and sold to recycling plants. Make sure that you contact the local range as early as possible and inquire when you can collect the discharged shells. 

Hospitals, Medical Clinics, Assisted Living Centers, and Clinics

Almost all sorts of scrap at these locations—from the beds and wheelchairs to walkers, fixtures, and appliances—can be excellent sources of scrap metal for you. The best way to establish a relationship with them is to schedule a meeting with the administrator and explain your free pickup and scrap removal services. Remember, most of these businesses are more than happy to get the junk thrown out to care about their value.


Posting on Craigslist can promote your interest in picking up various types of scrap metal items, such as old appliances. It does require the effort to regularly repost your service to keep it readily visible in Craigslist search versus competitors. 


Dumpsters can be an exciting source of finding scrap metal as you never know what you might uncover, but make sure that you have the proper permission from the owner before going through the dumpster. Some might not permit you, but some might be more than happy to see their junk being diverted. Dumpsters close to auto repair shops and major apartment complexes are the best places to check for scrap metal.

Farms and Ranches

If your business is in a rural or farming area, consider asking about old dump sites used by ranchers and farmers. Many farms have a ravine, gully, or other location where they have left old cars, machinery, and other items over the years to rust away. As always, be sure to receive permission from the owners before entering their property.