Back around 2013 when we started snap junk removal, there seemed to be a lot of individuals that would be willing to come out and pick up scrap metal free of charge. We even used to do it when we were first starting out, going so far as to drive through neighborhoods the night before trash day to pick up refrigerators, chairs, and other metal items that people had thrown out to take to the scrap yard to get money for. There would even be competition to pick up this free scrap metal. We would be driving through a neighborhood and see one or two other trucks doing the same thing and wind up disappointed because they beat us to the punch.
So what happened? Simply put, the price of scrap metal went down, while the price of living continues to go up. Where we used to get 10-12 cents a pound taking it to the scrap yard, now days we get about 4 cents a pound. When gas and oil prices dropped, this is about the same time scrap prices dropped. From what I understand the drop in scrap prices is some how related to how oil prices declined, and the related lack of demand for metal for the oil/pipeline/rig/support industries.
To demonstrate the effect this has, besides the obvious decline in value to roughly 1/3 of previous prices: we use to be able to fill our 16ft trailer full of scrap metal and appliances which might come out to be 3,000 pounds or $360 at the scrap yard at 12 cents a pound. Now days (2019) that same 3,000 pounds would fetch us $120 at the scrap yard at 4 cents a pound.
$120 is nothing to scoff at, but the amount of work that goes into removal and transport that amount of metal, especially from a business standpoint, is hardly sustainable, whereas $360 is. Most customers requesting free scrap removal only have one or a few items, many of which require two or more people to move and maneuver out of their house or from the backyard of their property. So immediately there is a labor cost involved. Plus the obvious gas expenditure to travel from address to address. If you have to make seven or eight stops to fill up your trailer full of metal, on other peoples' tight schedules to boot, it will likely take a whole work day. But there is another large expense to account for, and that is the very real need for the purchase of a truck capable of pulling a trailer, the trailer itself, and commercial insurance if you're one of the few scrap collection business owners who follows the law. Comparing equipment, gas, and labor expenses versus a revenue of $120 a day from selling scrap makes free scrap metal removal services unsustainable. Most people make that at their day job with no business expenses at $15 an hour.
So what happened to the free scrap metal removal guy you used to call and set stuff out for? Unfortunately, he probably went out of "business". He probably had to go get a regular job after his truck broke down and he couldn't afford to fix it. It used to be more realistic, but the economics of the situation changed. It's one of those situations where unless you're in the industry, you probably don't have a way of knowing that values have changed because it only affects you personally once every few year when you have to dispose of a fridge that goes out.
That's not to say that there aren't still some free scrap metal removal services. However, they are often concentrated around businesses who have repeat removal needs, in larger volumes. For instance, someone servicing machine shops, A/c repair shops, or mechanics shops who frequently dispose of large amounts of metal can still run a viable business. It's just hard to make money servicing residential customers for free because the logistics and scale are not conducive. There are some people who do it, but many are new to it and will be out of business very quickly because they fail to take into account the true costs (like Uber drivers) or will merely be weekend warriors who do it almost as a hobby
Here at Snap Junk Removal we are happy to help you dispose of your appliances, BBQ pits, mowers, and other metal items, however we do still have to charge our regular rates. Please give us a call at 281-610-6683
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