If you have only visited a junkyard to scrap your car for cash, it is highly likely that your knowledge on junkyards and how they work is limited.
Why do they collect all that scrap? What do they do with them afterwards? Apart from junk vehicles, what other types of junk do they collect?
These question, and many others, will be answered in this post. There is no disadvantage to increasing your knowledge on how junkyards work. As a matter of fact, do not be surprised if you find the whole process interesting. Here we go;
Where a Junkyard is Likeliest to Be
They handle so much materials, so, a junkyard needs to have an actual yard. Coupled with the equipment all salvage yards must have , lots of storage space is. Because of these, junkyards are often situated in industrial-type locations and off roads. Have you even been driving around and you happen upon a junkyard by the one roadside or the other? No? If you don’t go looking for a junkyard actively, you will hardly notice it. You may live close to one for years, and not know that it’s there.
Also, junkyards are more likely to be in urban and suburban locations. The reason for this is: their work relies on activity. Lots of scrap comes from construction, and demolition, and places with large populations see the most of these activities. You will find hundreds of junkyards in and around the biggest cities; New York City, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco etc. Some junkyard companies have multiple yards in one city.
What Type of Scrap Do They Collect?
There are some items that are more valuable than others as far as a junkyard is concerned, and these items/materials take precedence. Apart from people that bring their junk vehicles, junkyard also collect scrap from industry workers and homeowners; people who know the high value items all junkyards want, and when they find one, take it down and get cash for it.
The metals junkyards collect can be classified into ferrous, non-ferrous, and electronics. Iron, steel, and cast iron, all fall under ferrous metals, and they all have magnetic properties. Non-ferrous metals include copper, bronze, aluminium, brass, stainless steel among many others. Not all non-ferrous metals are magnetic, but they have more value at junkyards than ferrous metals. Electronic scrap consists of cables and power supplies, circuit boards, computer towers, hard-drives and so on, and they all have some amount of precious metals in them.
After sorting and preparation, junkyards sell all the useful metal to mills, and they are refined back into other brand-new metal products.
Junkyards are busiest during summer and spring, when new construction and demolitions jobs start. It is also during this period that most people do renovation jobs on their homes. These activities generate scrap, and they keep some junkyards running all through the night. Some construction projects send their scrap metals at the end of every week, and some are so big, they have to send trucks to junkyards every day. Because of projects like these, the biggest junkyards are opened 24/7.
Who Supplies the Junkyards? Who Do They Supply
As mentioned above, junkyards collect scrap from industries, construction sites, homeowners, small-time junk collection companies and junk car owners. In addition to these, they also collect scrap from manufacturers, small-time handymen (electricians, plumbers, HVAC workers etc.), public transit companies; even the government.
They collect metals like copper, bronze, aluminium, steel, iron, cast iron, stainless steel, brass, etc. which they, in turn, sell to milling and recycling companies (mostly outside the country; Russia, China, India) who convert them into brand new metals, to be sold back to the same people who took them to the junkyards in the first place.
How It All Comes Together
Seeing how rough junkyards always seem, you will be forgiven for assuming they are shoddily-run operations. They are the exact opposite of that. Junkyards are always so rough because what they handle lots of materials, and since not everything they receive have value, they have to sort extensively.
Anyway, once the materials are sorted, they are priced on a per-weight basis. Different metals have different rates, and all prices are calculated by multiplying the rate with the weight of the material. Junkyards get their rates from the trade market (which works in tandem with the stock market), and metal rates fluctuate with trade market fluctuations.
If you have a significant amount of scrap, as can be found in junk vehicles, junkyards will send a tow truck over to your house. You may be asked to pay for the towing service, but some junk yards foot the towing bill. Well, they don’t really foot the bill, they deduct the amount from your final payment in the end.