Operating on the peripheries of our towns and without bombardments of advertising on television and radio, the scrap metal business is a mysterious one to people whose businesses don’t deal with them regularly. If you’re just getting started in the industry yourself, you may carry a lot of the myths, misconceptions, and misinformation about the business of recycling. Let’s debunk three of the most common myths about scrap metal recycling and get to the truth.

MYTH: This Whole Business Is a Rip-Off

Readers of a certain age may remember trading in their old video games and finding with dismay that they were selling their treasured games for pennies on the dollar—a game that sold for $20 used may have only netted its seller about $3. The margins of this specific enterprise could easily lead one to believe that they exist in all industries, and that scrappers earn six times what they paid for scrap. This is far from the truth. In reality, the profit margins on metal are narrow and ever-shifting, and a scrap yard that treated its suppliers unethically would not remain in business for long.

MYTH: It Takes an Electromagnet To Sort Metal

One of the most important tasks in a scrap yard is to separate ferrous—iron-containing metals—from their non-ferrous counterparts. Non-ferrous metals such as copper and aluminum are more resistant to corrosion and worth more to recyclers than iron and steel. The best way to sort these metals is with your scrap yard magnet, a powerful electromagnet that captures naturally magnetic iron and steel while leaving non-ferrous metals behind. While no yard is complete without an electromagnet, for small jobs a handheld magnet is often enough to do the trick.

MYTH: It’s a Jungle Out There

One of the most common myths about scrap metal recycling is that you’re taking your life in your hands every time you set foot on the premises. It’s understandable, in a way—you’re dealing with heavy machinery full of sharp blades and powerful crushing capacity, all that metal can have sharp and jagged edges, and even the noise levels can be damaging to the ears. However, scrap yards operate under stringent OSHA safety guidelines to ensure scrapping facilities as safe as possible. Workers must still operate with caution and the proper protective equipment, but you can work in the scrap metal industry with peace of mind as you help to re-use our metals and protect our existing natural resources.