Can I Recycle Railroad Metal at a Scrap Metal Yard?

Can I Recycle Railroad Metal at a Scrap Metal Yard?

Finding resources and information about scrap law can be a chore. Luckily, as a Tennessee scrap metal recycling company, we have inside information for you to prevent having to spend hours online tracking down useful, correct information about scrap metal laws, regulations, safety information, and other resources. Today, we’ll discuss utility scrap, and what you can and cannot recycle at a metal recycling yard should you find them on your property or otherwise legally come into possession of metals that once belonged to a city or state municipality.

What is Utility Scrap?

Utility scrap is a term used to describe either ferrous or nonferrous metals (including, but not limited to copper, brass, iron, bronze, aluminum, lead, steel, and stainless steel) that were owned by a government entity, a public utility company, telephone or cable cooperative, cemetery, or railroad company. Because of the likelihood of abuse and subsequent threats to the public health, these items aren’t typically accepted by scrap dealers without proper documentation and credentials showing that you are authorized by the entity to sell the metal.

Utility Scrap List

Utility scrap is any restricted, regulated material. Scrap metal yards are forbidden by state law to accept these items at our facilities. Common utility scrap includes materials such as:

  • Railroad track materials or railroad equipment such as railroad spikes, angle bars, tie plates, signal housing, control boxes, switch plates, or rail tie junctions
  • Metal from an electric light pole or other utility structure, including its wires or hardware that’s identifiable as part of a utility structure
  • Street signs or traffic signs
  • Traffic light signals and their connected equipment
  • Any wiring coming from a utility including grounding wires or plates, connectors, aluminum busbars, or copper
  • Metal from Guard rails
  • Portable water backflow preventer valves
  • Historical markers and funeral vases
  • Metal that has been marked by with the name, logo, or initials of a utility company, government entity, railroad company, or cemetery
  • Valves or fittings that are used by fire departments to access water from fire hydrants commonly referred to as FDC valves
  • Water meters or their components
  • Storm grates or other utility access covers

Can I Recycle Utility Scrap?

Individuals cannot sell any items from this list above without proper authorization. It’s true, no one in their right mind would attempt to knock down a metal light pole and turn it in for scrap metal money. However, people commonly find utility scrap on their land and aren’t sure if they can scrap it or not. As a premier metal recycling company in Tennessee, we are often brought utility scrap by consumers to be recycled. Most commonly, people have found these materials in an old shed or barn that sits on land they recently purchased. It’s not entirely uncommon to dig up these materials as either.

Most often, utility meters and other utility scrap will be “decommissioned” in a process that involves having the owners of the materials present them and then receive a Certificate of Destruction (COD). This certificate proves that utility scrap is recycled in accordance with the law and environmental and OSHA regulations. While this process is observed most of the time, sometimes materials can be misplaced, lost, or even stolen, or the metal may be so old that it was disposed of before decommissioning rules existed.

Utility Scrap Recycling

If you’ve found metal from any of the regulated materials lists, you won’t be able to sell it to a scrap metal facility. Because scrap metal dealers in East Tennessee and elsewhere must have a release form from the owners of the property, there’s not much you can do other than take the materials to a solid waste facility. For example, if you attempt to recycle railroad metal at a scrap yard, the dealer must receive a release from the railroad company stating that you are authorized to sell it. Technically, the railroad company that commissioned the track still owns the metal, and so individuals need their permission to sell it.

If you have found old metal that isn’t on the list or that you are unsure of, contact Roane Metals Group for assistance from one of our metal recycling experts. Cities, utilities, and public works of any kind in Tennessee, seeking utility metal recycling services can also count on Roane Metals Group to correctly recycle materials and to present you with a certificate of destruction. Contact us online for utility metal recycling or by phone at 865-354-4282 (East Tennessee) or 931-707-0907 (Middle Tennessee).