Most scrappers start out by getting rid of some of their own personal scrap or scrap materials from their own business or job site—but when you get bitten by the scrapping bug, you might want to bring in scrap more often. Eventually, you may come to a point where you want or need to ask for scrap from other people or even businesses.

This can be an awkward interaction for many scrappers, especially at first, but it can turn a small hobby into something truly lucrative. Here are a few tips for success.

Presentation is Everything

Presenting yourself as a professional is often tantamount to success when you’re asking for scrap. Wear business casual clothes like a polo and khakis, and consider having some flyers or business cards printed. These will both make you look more professional and help people remember you.

Part of a good presentation isn’t just looking good, though. You also need to do a little research and have some facts and figures to back up any claims you make. For example, if you’re approaching a small plumbing business for its scrap, consider talking about the money the company can save not doing their own recycling, and the positive environmental impacts of recycling.

Be Honest

Be honest with the fact that you are going to sell this scrap for money. Beating around the bush or avoiding this topic can make you seem unethical.

Try to frame your relationship with the business or individual whose scrap you want as mutually beneficial. You will save them time and effort (and labor cost, if it’s a business), and you’ll make a little money (at no cost to them).

Stay Positive

Many scrappers get very nervous about asking for free scrap. Letting your nerves take control can cause you to present yourself badly or, even worse, not to ask for the scrap at all. Beat your nervousness by staying positive.

Remember that the worst thing that can possibly happen is you not getting any scrap. Beyond that, there can be no negative consequences.

Create a Paper Trail

Because there are so many laws to prevent theft of valuable scrap, you should create a paper trail to protect yourself. Every time you pick up scrap from an individual or business, have them sign the scrap over to you in writing.

This will save you time when you get to the scrap yard, and can also protect you from legal troubles down the road. You’re doing the work to get your scrap ethically and legally—be sure to do the work to show that too.

Consider Making Scrap Hauling Its Own Business

When you ask for scrap and a company or person gives it to you, there are usually three ways this relationship can work:

  • The other person or the company sells you their scrap, cutting into your profits.
  • The other person or the company gives you the scrap for free, meaning that you pay your own expenses, but nothing else.
  • The company or person pays you to haul their scrap.

The latter two relationships are obviously better—unless you’re getting something highly valuable, you shouldn’t pay for scrap that you’re hauling and sorting yourself.

Getting paid to haul scrap is pretty rare, considering that companies and individuals know you are going to make money from the scrap. However, there are ways to get paid for collecting scrap if you sweeten the deal in some way.

For example, you can offer to haul all of a company’s waste. This will obviously cost you time and effort, but you can be paid for your trouble long before you get to the scrap yard.

If you’re collecting scrap from individuals, you can offer to clean up houses or yards for a small fee, and then keep anything you can scrap for yourself.

If you’re being paid, it’s doubly important to get the terms of your agreement in writing and to conduct yourself ethically. Especially with businesses, writing up and signing a contract can not only protect you legally, but get you repeat business!