Can Dumpster Diving Make You a Fortune in Precious Metals?

There’s no doubt that precious metals are waiting to be found in dumpsters.  Alert dumpster divers can find gold, platinum, and silver in dumpsters in locations like these . . .

  • A dumpster that is being used to collect materials outside a building that is being demolished can contain old computers that contain gold, thermocouple wire that contains silver and platinum.

  • A dumpster outside a factory could contain welding supplies that contain silver, plating tanks and pipes that contain gold, old sputtering targets that contain gold, silver and platinum . . . and lots more.

  • A dumpster outside a school or college could contain old computers and other electronic devices that contain gold.

  • A dumpster outside a hospital could hold cadmium or platinum testing supplies, old computers and testing equipment that contains gold, and lots more.

  • A dumpster outside an automotive recycling facility could contain a big pile of old catalytic converters that contain platinum.

Ready, Set . . . Dive! But Exercise Caution

Wow, people really are throwing away all of those valuable materials, and maybe even more. But before you put a stepladder in your car and get ready to dumpster dive, here are some precautions you should follow.

Caution One: The Stuff in Dumpsters Belongs to Somebody

Many people assume that materials that end up in dumpsters don’t belong to anyone. (“Hey, they threw this stuff away, and it must be free for the taking, right?”) Unfortunately, that is often a faulty assumption and if you help yourself to the materials that a dumpster contains, you could be stealing, and can get into trouble. As one business owner explains it, “We get our waste hauled away by a carting company that recycles it and is entitled to the money it makes by doing so. So no, the stuff in our dumpsters is not free for the taking.”

So the safest course of action is to always ask permission before looking through the materials that dumpsters contain. Better safe than sorry, as the old saying goes.

Caution Two: Dumpsters Can Be Dangerous

In addition to any precious metals, dumpsters can contain all kinds of dangerous chemicals and substances that you want to steer clear of. That same business owner we quoted just above explains, “We had the walls scraped in one of our facilities and the remediation company put all kinds of paint chips, plaster powder and other nasty stuff in heavy plastic bags in our dumpster.” You really don’t want to come into contact with stuff like that. Also, climbing in and out of dumpsters can be dangerous, because dumpsters can contain sharp objects you don’t want to encounter by surprise.

Plus, a lot of companies do not take kindly to having outsiders come onto their property to comb through their waste. They hire security companies to keep an eye on things, let guard dogs patrol their property, and engage in other forms of protection. Don’t put yourself in danger by being where you are not supposed to be.

Caution Three: It Is Wisest to Negotiate, Not Dumpster Dive

Instead of jumping into a dumpster to see what it contains, talk to the people who own it. Get the lay of the land. Chances are that you stand a better chance of negotiating to buy a company’s waste than of negotiating rights to peruse it.

And what if you find stuff that could contain precious metals? Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to discuss your discoveries with us. We are here to explain your precious metal recycling options and suggest proven – and safe – strategies for profiting from precious metal scrap.

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