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Exporting & Shipping Scrap Metal Overseas

In tough economic times, recycling and scrapping metal are lucrative businesses for many. Metal prices can dictate large financial returns, even though the job is dirty and hazardous. More markets are opening overseas, creating new opportunities for exporting. There are certain aspects one must have in place in order to start their business successfully.

This article will explain how to explore your options for a scrap metal supplier. How to gain insight on the scrap metal market value for exporting. And how to find an overseas buyer and handler for your goods. Lastly, you’ll learn how to ship your metals overseas to your new buyers.

Metal Identification and Supply

Metals will be purchased by the pound by buyers. In order to sell scrap, you will need to identify it accurately. Check the ferromagnetism of the metal using a magnet (whether or not it sticks to the magnet). This information should be taken into consideration, along with the appearance, weight, and item of origin of the metal. You can expect to receive the bulk of your scrap metal from five major metals.

  • Alloy steel and iron have a wide range of applications and are probably the most commonly recycled metals. Aside from aluminum, iron is ferromagnetic, strong, and lightweight. However, it rusts into a reddish-brown color when it is exposed to the elements.
  • Aluminum is a non-ferromagnetic and lightweight metal. It is ubiquitous, similar to iron.
  • Copper is slightly pink in pure form, while lower grades are reddish-brown in appearance. The color of the metal tarnishes into a jade green. There is no magnetic property to copper, and it is slightly heavier than iron. Copper appears in wiring and high-quality cookware.
  • Bronze is a copper alloy, but its value is much lower than copper. The color is considerably lighter, almost gold in hue. It is widely used in musical instruments, decorations, and pipe valves.
  • Lead is very soft and heavy. Bullets and radiation shields are typically made of it. Whenever you handle something that appears to contain lead, use protective gear.
  • It is important to note that there are several grades within these basic categories. Most stainless steels, for example, are not magnetic. Scrapping electronics may also expose you to rarer valuable metals. Before you start your business, review these options and your access to them.

Scrap Metal Providers

Not everyone has a junkyard or business with easily accessible scrap metal on hand. If you aren’t involved with any ship, barge, and oil rigging companies per se, it’s not a dead end. Connect with recycling centers or similar businesses with scrap metal supplies. Many don’t realize the potential of exporting scrap metal overseas and are losing revenue streams.

You can find reliable scrap metal suppliers on the Internet. Read about the services they provide and compare their prices. Verify the reliability of companies that you are interested in by reading reviews from their clients. There are online directories of scrap metal providers, such as RecycleInMe. Once you have found a supplier you can work with long-term, a major integral factor for your scrap metal exporting business is complete.

Disassembling objects for scrap

If you do have your own supply of scrap metal, you’ll need to take it apart for exporting. Typically, you will have to break down larger objects into smaller components in order to sort your scrap. It may be possible to dismantle some objects using simple tools, whereas others may require a blow torch or a metal saw.

Depending on what type of item you are dealing with, you will need to take specific steps. This is where research of the particular metals you are dealing with will come in handy. You’ll want to sort and compress your scrap supply as needed for buyers.

Despite the fact that many buyers will accept wiring as is, some scrappers opt to strip it themselves in order to maximize their copper value. Assess whether the price difference exceeds the cost of your time and labor. Stripping wire may be worthwhile when you’re just starting out, but it’s less essential once you have established your business.

Investigate The Sale Market

Make sure you check current scrap metal prices before deciding what to sell. Price your products so that foreign buyers will find them appealing. You can track market pricing on websites such as:

Keeping up to date with price changes is essential so you don’t under (or over)sell your supply.

How Are Prices Set?

Public exchanges offer a wide range of metals. These exchanges include the New York Mercantile Commodity Exchange (COMEX) and London Metal Exchange (LME). The purchase and sale of other metals are conducted directly through the offices of metal producers who set the price.

Occasionally, metals with rarer uses or specialized uses are not publicly traded but are ordered direct from the metal producer.

Market participants have the option of reducing potential price volatility in their metal supply by participating in futures and options contracts for popular metals. Additionally, these instruments provide speculators with a way to profit from unpredicted fluctuations in the metal market.

Top Importers of Scrap Metal

You’ll need to do your market research to identify who the top buyers of scrap metal outside the US are right now. 

With over 22,4 million metric tons of steel scrap imported in 2020, Turkey is by far the largest steel scrap importer in the world. Steel scrap imports from Turkey eclipsed all other major steel scrap importing countries, with India coming in second with under 5.4 million metric tons.

Steel is a material that is widely recycled throughout the world. If you have access to it, the sky is the limit for profitability

shipping scrap metal

Export Handlers

In the international market, an export broker acts as a broker or agent between buyers and sellers. Export brokers facilitate internal transactions between two parties. As a seller of Shipping Scrap Metal, you will want an Export Handler, such as a Broker, to help with the overseas sales process.

A broker or agent facilitates exports in a number of different ways. Below is a list of them:

  • The traditional agent acts on behalf of his/her client. As international trade agents, they make arrangements for the sale and purchase of products on behalf of clients (businesses).
  • Broker – Brokers facilitate business transactions without representing any particular company or principal. Brokers are freed from many of the obligations associated with agency relationships. Obtaining export opportunities for their clients in international markets is what brokers do for their clients and charge them commissions.

The two main types of brokers are:

  • Merchandise Broker – A merchandise broker facilitates the negotiation of terms and conditions between buyers and sellers, including the pricing, the quantity, the delivery schedule, and the right to return products. It is their role to negotiate the terms of the contract, but they do not send or receive products on behalf of clients.
  • Customs Broker – A customs broker is a person who deals with clearing goods for export. Also known as customs clearance agents, customs brokers provide customs clearance services. It is a legal requirement for customs brokers to hold a customs broker license.


The Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS) published a set of guidelines as part of its effort to reduce the number of claims related to the carriage of Shipping Scrap Metal. These guidelines aim to ensure that Shipping Scrap Metal will be packaged, declared, and transported properly.

Shippers are responsible for ensuring that metal scrap shipments comply with regulations. Using the wrong size or loading method for the metal scrap will result in heavy pieces damaging the sidewalls and floors of containers.

Here are the guidelines CINS has in place for shipping scrap metal:

  • Containers for dry freight are typically used to ship metal scrap. For the carriage of such commodities, it is recommended to use older container units.
  • If metal scraps are shipped in an open-top container, peel grabs can be employed to stuff them. The container operator or carrier must explicitly permit an open-top container.
  • According to the nature and shape of the scrap, plywood on the walls and floor of containers should be used to protect them from metal scrap in bulk.
    The cargo should not be pushed against the door during transport.
  • Containers can be severely damaged if the scrap is poured into them with their front end tilted to the side. It is necessary to load the scraps into containers horizontally.
  • In order to prevent cargo from moving during transportation, the load or container must be loaded or secured correctly. A container’s payload cannot exceed the limit.
  • It is also necessary to discharge containers horizontally. Metal scrap is damaged by tipping the container to empty it.

You want to partner with a Shipping Scrap Metal company that knows how to correctly get your product to its destination. Contact OGL for help getting your exports to buyers.

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