Thursday, January 28, 2010

Make Money: Aluminum Recycling & Salvage - Winter Storms Bring Recycling Profits

Winter storms and extreme weather make a lot of aluminum available for recycling and reuse. Mobile home and trailer awnings are particularly susceptible to damage beyond repair. I found that many folks are very happy to just get the damaged material out their yards. Some will want to be paid a bit for the scrap.

I placed ads in freebie newspapers in the area and also posted signs on bulleting boards saying that I wanted damaged or unwanted used awnings and trailer skirting. I also contacted all the insurance companies in the area and left them a little handout saying the same. Nowadays, also postings on your local Craigslist and Freecycle makes sense.

Note that even though the awnings are damaged beyond repair in the eyes of those giving up the material, it doesn't mean that it's useless. Some of the larger parts of the frame are made of nice aluminum extrusions that are useful for other applications and easily resold for more than their scrap value. Same goes for some of the apparatus associated with the awnings.

This is NOT the sort of material that you want to take to the local recycler that normally deals in cans and plastics. My experience is that they will either not take it at all or offer you little or no money for it.

This is the sort of material that you want to hang onto until you have a trailer or pickup load. The best place to sell this scrap is to large metal salvage yards in big cities. But there's work to do before you haul it in or you'll get less than the best price. Sorting and cleaning is what it's all about.

There are different prices for different types of aluminum including...

Click here for complete article

This is part of an ongoing series documenting my experience in and thoughts about the future of the recycling and salvage business.

Visit and the Recycling Secrets Blog for more information about recycling, reuse and salvage.

Mike Meuser
2010 is our year!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Free Renewable Energy Maps and GIS Shapefiles

In an earlier post I made the statement that I thought that recycling and salvage for renewable alternative energy is becoming a growing niche in the business. Here are some mapping and GIS sources that I have collected that may help you think about this field.

Renewable energy potential maps show fuelwood harvested, solar radiation, wind resources and geothermal potential for regions of the U.S.

Renewable energy ArcGIS shapefiles U.S. Biomass Potential: Wind Density and Speed, Hydrogen Potential, Electric Transmission, and Solar Potential for the U.S. Also, International Wind Density and Speed. These are in GIS format. If you are new to GIS check out this introduction. You can make maps yourself using this data and free GIS software - learn with this free tutorial.

Renewable Energy Atlas of the West: A Guide to the Region's Resource Potential - The Renewable Energy Atlas of the West is designed as a resource for policy makers, advocates, landowners, developers and others interested in furthering the production of electricity from renewable wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy resources. Utilizing state-of-the-art GIS technology.

Maps by country of power resources, minerals, metals, oil, infrastructure

International Nuclear Safety Center Interactive Web Maps - Interactive maps provided by the International Nuclear Safety Center. Beginning with the world map you can drill down to continents and countries. Clicking on a nuclear facility at any level provides access to specific database information. You can also view all of the interactive maps one a single page and begin your investigation there.

hurricanes making landfall in U.S.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reminder Electronic Gold and Recycling Tips

Good Morning - It's been awhile since I've posted these links and some things have changed so I thought I'd repost some old and new links in case you missed them the first time around.

Also, I've recently been adding to Mike's Tips from the Field: Learn to profit in the home based recycling and salvage business.

Additions include:

High profits come from turning over your recycled and salvage material as quickly and as often as possible.

Learn how to bootstrap your home-based recycling business.

Home-Based Recycling Business Profits: Sell Used Tech Gadgets for Cash.

Home Based Recycling and Salvage 101: Bootsrap Yourself out of the Recession.

Recycling for Renewable and Alternative Energy: The next new big thing in recycling and salvage?

Soon I'll be writing more about recycling and salvage for the renewable and alternative energy fields, expanding to self-reliant systems for heating, cooling and alternative building materials. This IS the future for the home-based small recycling and salvage business.

I'll also be continuing my series on my work in the recycling and salvage fields. Once I finish up with the electronics and computer scrap, I'll bactrack a bit to my experience with metals, rural and farm salvage, and building deconstruction.

I hope that you'll stay with me. Lots to tell :)


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Recycling for Renewable and Alternative Energy: The next new big thing in recycling and salvage?

With the effects of climate change, peak oil, recession and financial crisis every growing, recycling and salvage for renewable and alternative energy will become increasingly important.

In my recycling and salvage of electronics and telecommunication work I found that there was a ready market for some quite used very large batteries. People with home power systems were willing to pay quite a bit for them and still save money over purchasing them new. These same folks were also looking for generators (alternators), meters, inverters, wire and many other electricity and wiring related items.

Renewable and alternative energy technology is ever-changing. As newer more efficient photovoltaic (PV) panels and complete roofing systems are created, older ones - that are still functional - will be replaced. Though these old ones may not be as efficient as the new, they certainly will have applications and be in demand for home and small business power. Also, as the new ones come to market, there will be heavy discounts on the old that you can take advantage of.

Over the next years the battery packs in hybrid cars will be replaced. I'm guessing that even if the entire pack - an assembly of several batteries - is "bad" there are some batteries in the pack that are good and the others may well be reconditionable. In the past I have found that around 3/4 of the batteries that are replaced can be reconditioned with a very slow 1 amp charge over several days. The manufacturers of the new "smart" chargers claim that they will recondition batteries and bring them back to near their original storage capacity. It is worth checking out... more.

Read entire article at

Home Based Recycling and Salvage 101: Bootsrap Yourself out of the Recession

I began in the recycling and salvage business in the early 1980s. Like today, but not as bad, there was a housing boom and bust that made making a living and maintaining a home difficult for many.

I was inspired to get into the recycling and salvage business after reading a little booklet titled, "Surplus and Salvage." I was amazed that everything I needed to improve my conditions and make a decent income were right in front of me - most everywhere I looked.

Without the insights in that little booklet I would have never dug myself out of the hole I was in. My hope is that this little article will help you see what is out there and how you might change your life for the better once you do.

Recycling and salvage is much more than collecting cans, cardboard, paper, etc. and taking them to a recycling center. This works, but to a very limited degree. For me, recycling and salvage takes some creativity.

In my mind, one of the reasons that our economy is failing is that "find a need and fill it" has become "create a need and fill it." Our economy is driven by greed and over-consumption instead of need. With enough money for advertising ANY need (e.g. desire) can be created. Recycling and salvage brings us back to a solid economic foundation based on need not greed.

In this work we are really operating at the ground level of needs and fulfillment. When I started out I first went from business to business and asked them, "what is it that you need?" Just a few days of doing this produced a long list of things that I should be on the lookout for. It included: old brass valves for rebuilding, auto parts for rebuilding, electric motors and generators for rebuilding, wooden shelving, steel shelving, desks, chairs, file cabinets, hand tools, power tools, plumbing supplies, glass ... The list went on and on.

So, now I had a list of things to keep my eye out for and ...

Read the entire article at

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Home-Based Recycling Business Profits: Sell Used Tech Gadgets for Cash

January 5, 2010

Update October 29, 2010: The new Home Based Salvage and Recycling Business Manual is available for download. Check here for more information


Used working and, in many cases, broken PDAs, SmartPhones, iPODs, Cell Phones, Desktop PCs, Laptops, Game Consoles, Video Games and other gadgets can be sold for cash. I haven't sold to any of these companies yet, but their reviews are good. When working with anyone new to you, it pays to be cautious and send them a small quantity first to see how it works out. It also pays to compare prices between the various buyers. This list is not exhaustive, but is representative of what is out there.

I'm sure that you'll think of more ideas, but this is one I thought of. This seems like the near perfect way to raise money for non-profits and yourself as well. You could approach non-profits and churches and tell them that you'd help them setup a fundraising drive to collect old cell phones and other gadgets. You could take care of the business end and split the profits with them.

Here are some of the online buyers of used gadgets that I am aware of:

Pace Butler buys cell phones. They say, "PaceButler Corporation contributes to the local and worldwide community by providing top quality products and service. We are dedicated to customer satisfaction through constant improvement of systems and procedures. When our customers profit, we profit, resulting in a win/win situation." buys cell phones, PDAs, iPODs, and SmartPhones. They say, "AX Micro Solutions founded, which is the world's leader in providing 3rd party repairs & service for PDA's, SmartPhones & iPOD units. We have helped individuals and corporations repair 1000's of Consumer Electronic Devices. We were getting many requests from customers to send us their used, old, broken or outdated Pda's, Cell Phones, iPOD's and smartphones. In the past we had no way of taking those units but that has changed. We have teamed up with several local and national corporations to recycle your Electronic items."

Capital Asset buys used desktop and laptop computers, working or not. They say, "Our aim, from day one, has been to offer our customers, whether a private party or a business , the fastest quality service as well as the best cash value . Quotes that our customers receive online instantly are a result of scrupulous research of the current market in the laptop retail industry and guarantee that you will get a competitive market value for your laptop." buys cell phones, PDAs desktops, camera lenses, projectors, LCD monitors, gaming consoles, laptops, digital cameras, GPS devices, satellite radios, streaming
media, home audio, calculators, movies, MP3
players, video games, camcorders, external
drives, Blu-Ray players. They say, "Gazelle believes that electronics recycling starts with reuse. After we buy electronics and gadgets, we evaluate their condition. When we receive items that are still in working condition, we extend their lives by removing all personal data from them, and selling the electronics through a variety of retail and wholesale outlets. Items without market value are recycled responsibly." buys cell pnones, MP3 player, apple accessories,
iPODs, digital cameras, ebook readers. The say, " is here to give you an eco-friendly avenue to get rid of electronics while pocketing some extra cash. We offer a fast, simple and green way to get money for your gadgets—free shipping included. We currently purchase cell phones, Apple iPods, iPhones, laptops and desktops, plus most smart phones and PDAs (Blackberry, Treo, Nokia, HTC, LG, Motorola, etc.) Zunes, MP3 players and game consoles (Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Wii). We don't care about the condition—we will take it broken or used. Get top dollar for your gadgets while keeping your eWaste out of the landfill!"

If you want to focus on cell phones, check this

Over a billion cell phones were sold in 2007. More in the last years. According to Park Associates there are over 4.5 billion cell phone users on the planet. If you are looking to focus on cell phone recycling, you might want to check out this guide by Scott Andrews. Scott has been in the precious metal recycling business for 30 years and his manuals helped me get started in the business back in the early 1980s. Check out Scott's Cell Phone Recycling Profit manual for high-profit recycling opportunities and insiders secrets to recycling cell phones. This manual is based on Scott Andrew's 30 years experience in the business.

by Michael Meuser

Update October 29, 2010: The new Home Based Salvage and Recycling Business Manual is available for download. Check here for more information

Michael Meuser bootstrapped his way into the salvage and recycling business in the early 1980s. He began with building deconstruction and scrap metals and then moved into electronics, computer and telecommunications scrap where he learned to recover gold and other precious metal. Michael tells his story, provides resources and offers his advice at his website,, and his blog, Recycling Secrets Blog. Also, you can follow Michael on Twitter.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

High profits come from turning over your recycled and salvage material as quickly and as often as possible

by Michael Meuser,

When I first started out I wanted to hold on to the material I collected telling myself I was waiting for the best price. It took me awhile to realize that by doing this I was crippling my business and putting it at risk. If you are like I was, you have a limited amount of capital and most likely started out by bootstrapping your business. If you are, it makes the most sense to turn over what you have collected as quickly as possible.

Here's an example. Let's say you paid $500 for a pickup load of high grade computer boards this morning. Gold has been going up and down and now it's a bit down, but you paid the amount you paid based on the value of gold NOW. So, you have to decide if you are in the salvage/recycling business or if you are a speculating investor. A speculator might hold off, see how the market goes and try to sell high, but this doesn't work if you are in the business. In this business it makes most sense to process or sell the goods today or tomorrow - as soon as possible - to get back your $500 stake plus 10-20% profit or more and have your capital available to do it again and again as often as possible.

Here's another way to look at it. If you pay $500 for something and can sell it tomorrow for $550, you've made a 10% profit in one day. If you wait a week for a better price and sell it for $575, you've made a 15% profit in a week but much less than that per day. For the entire week, you have not had your $500 of capital to use to buy and sell more material. $50 every day or so is more than $75 in a week. The more often you turn over your material, the higher your profit will be no matter how marginally profitable some of the individual transactions look at the time.

One very real risk of hanging on to your material too long is that when you do finally sell it, you'll need some of your capital for everyday expenses leaving less to buy more material with. If you are not careful this will be the beginning of a short downhill slide to not having enough capital to do business and then you have to bootstrap all over again starting at the bottom.

I'm not saying that there aren't times when it makes sense to wait a bit. If you live far from a refiner or buyer, it makes sense to make the trip with a large load rather than a small one. So, you have to factor in the cost of transportation and the value of your time. Some things like electric motor and generator cores or valve cores are sold to remanufacturers who don't want to be bothered with very small lots.

Bottom line is that to be profitable and make the most of your capital and to help make it grow, turn over your material as quickly as you can given the value of your time, transportation and shipping costs, and buyer constraints. In this case, time really is money.

Mike Meuser

Visit for free home based recycling business resources and free how-to manual about recovering gold from electronic and computer scrap

Michael Meuser entered into the salvage and recycling business in the early 1980s. He began with building deconstruction and scrap metals and then moved into electronics, computer and telecommunications scrap where he learned to recover gold and other precious metal. Michael tells his story and offers his advice at his website,, and his blog, Recycling Secrets Blog. Also, you can follow Michael on Twitter.

Recycling Recovering & Refining Gold and Silver from Computer and Electronic Scrap

We've added some new videos about how to recycle, recover and refine Gold and Silver from computer and electronic scrap.

View the gold and silver videos

Visit for free how-to manual about gold and precious metal recovery from electronic and computer scrap based on my own experience in the business
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