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3 Things to Know About Scrap Metal Recycling in Tennessee

Once upon a time, scrap metal was consigned to the garbage dump along with other unwanted materials. With advances in recycling technology, it is now possible to make new use of old metals. Not only that, but this process can usually generate a tidy little profit for both the seller and the buyer of the scrap metal.

That doesn't mean that you can simply show up at a metal recycling facility and hand over your scrap. Tennessee state laws regulate the sales of scrap metal in ways that it is important to know about. If you would like to learn more about what types of scrap metal you can—and can't sell—in Tennessee, read on. It article will discuss three important pieces of information.

Seller Restrictions Apply to Certain Pieces of HVAC Equipment

There is no denying that old or non-functioning air conditioners represent potential goldmines where scrap metal is concerned. This is especially true when it comes to certain copper-rich components such as the condenser or the evaporator coil. Copper is one of the most valuable of all scrap metals.

Of course, that doesn't mean that, as a homeowner, you can simply waltz into a scrap metal recycling facility and expect to sell old air conditioning components. On the contrary, there are some very strict and very specific regulations in place about who can sell such items. It is intended to discourage the sales of stolen or misappropriated HVAC equipment. It is also because such components may still contain a certain amount of potentially toxic refrigerant.
For these reasons, a scrap metal recycler will only accept air conditioning components if one of the following three conditions is met:
  • The seller is a licensed HVAC contractor.
  • The seller and/or their company holds permits allowing them to conduct installation and maintenance on residential HVAC equipment.
  • The seller and/or their company holds a business tax license with a Class 4 classification.
Furthermore, scrap metal recyclers are prohibited from paying for evaporator coils or condensers in cash. Rather, they must issue either a check or a money order to the seller's company. This payment may not be presented directly to the seller at the time of sale, but must instead be mailed to the company's business address.

Beer Kegs Cannot Legally Be Recycled.

A beer keg represents a surprisingly valuable amount of metal. In fact, a single empty beer keg may possess a scrap metal value of 30 dollars or more. This fact has contributed to alarming numbers of beer keg thefts in recent years. For instance, in 2007, it was estimated that as many as 300,000 beer kegs were stolen to be sold as scrap metal. It represented a loss of around $50 million dollars.

For this reason, Tennessee and most other states have implemented strict laws preventing recyclers from purchasing metal beer kegs. This restriction applies equally to damaged and undamaged kegs, as well as to any metal which can be recognized as having come from a beer keg.

Minors Are Not Legally Allowed to Sell Scrap Metal.

Selling scrap metal may strike many youngsters as a perfect hobby, one that will allow them to earn a little bit of extra money. Tennessee law prohibits scrap metal dealers from purchasing metal from any individual under the age of 18. Teenagers who are eager to join the ranks of scrap metal sellers will simply have to wait until they are old enough to do business.


Selling scrap metal is a great way to turn unwanted materials into cash. It is important to understand the rules and regulations that govern this world before getting involved. Likewise, it is highly recommended that you find a reputable scrap metal company to sell your metal to. It will make the process—and the payout—as simple and stress-free as possible.