There is often a misconception about scrap being synonymous with waste. Scrap generally refers to left over or used materials which can still be used for other purposes. Scrap metal is a term for different kinds of metal which have been used or were previously parts of other machinery. These may be parts of vehicles, building supplies or even surplus materials. "Waste" refers to materials which are used and unusable and are for disposal. Scrap, unlike waste, has significant monetary value and is bought and sold.
Scrap contributes significantly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution and also conserves energy and natural resources. Every year, about 145,000,000 short tons of scrap metals are turned into raw material feedstock. Because scrap materials are not kept in landfills, they help keep the air and the water cleaner through removing potentially hazardous materials which are found in landfills.
Different businesses or services dispose and recycle scrap metal properly. "Scrappers" advertise their services which include removing scrap metal for people who want to dispose of them. They then bring scrap metals to a wrecking yard, or sometimes referred to as scrap yard, junkyard, or breaker's yard. These places are where the metals are melted and transformed into new products.
Customers who want to have parts extracted are typically required to supply their own tools and labor. Depending on the scrap yard, waivers for personal injury are also required before entering. Bulk materials which are sold by weight are also sold, and they are sold at a lower price than that of selling the same materials per piece or in retail.
In scrap yards, scrap metal is sold by weight rather than by item. The value of the scrap is not dependent on the shape or the purpose of the part or the metal. Wreckers, on the other hand, sell the metal depending on the purpose of the item regardless of its weight. If wreckers cannot sell an item more than the value of the metal in it, they typically sell it to the scrap yard by its weight. Some of the materials also contain different kinds of metal in it; these materials are sold for a lower price because there is no labor cost for separating the metals before shipping them.
There are certain risks to scrapping metal. These are potentially greatest when the metals have hazardous material in them, such as radioactivity in some metals. Some metals have contaminating substances in them, which is why it is very important to have proper gear and equipment when handling metals. Some scrap yards use hydraulic-powered machines to cut metal for safety.