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Monday, October 18, 2021

When Recycling, Don’t Be Foiled By Metals: Tips for Making Metals a Part of Your Recycling Plans

By Alyssa Ruggiero

If you are recycling your aluminum soda and beer cans, pat yourself on the back. According to the Aluminum Association, nearly 75 percent of all the aluminum produced in the U.S. is still in use today. More than 100,000 aluminum cans are recycled each minute thanks to recycling efforts (and because aluminum is infinitely recyclable). From the time you put an aluminum can in your recycling container, its material could be back on the supermarket shelf in just two months.

But what about all the other metal disposables found around your house? Maybe you assume certain things just aren’t recyclable. Of course, it’s always smart to check with your local recycling hauler for their rules, but certain items can definitely be diverted from the landfill, whether by putting them in your curbside container or making a trip to a recycling drop-off facility.

  • Aluminum foil: Many recyclers will accept aluminum foil curbside, with one caveat: like most recyclables, aluminum foil needs to be clean; grease or food residue can contaminate the other recyclables during the recycling process. Clean, disposable aluminum baking pans (like the ones you might cook a turkey in, minus the drippings) are usually accepted as well.
  • Metal jar lids: Glass jars and bottles are usually sealed with metal lids, and they can often be recycled curbside. Phoenix accepts metal caps and lids and asks that they be kept on their containers. Loose caps can be an issue because they are small and can easily fall into places they shouldn’t be. To avoid this, you could fill a larger recyclable container, such as a can, with small bottle caps or lids of the same material as the can, and then crimp it closed.
  • Appliances: Obviously, you can’t put an old oven into your curbside container, but it is made of valuable metal that can be collected and reused. Many scrap metal recyclers will accept old appliances such as ovens, washers or dryers. They might even pick your appliance up for a small fee. If you bring it in yourself, you could even earn a few bucks for the donation. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Responsible Appliance Disposal program accepts refrigerators and freezers for recycling so that potentially harmful chemicals used in the cooling systems can be disposed of properly.
  • Cook and bakeware: It’s always best to give away or donate used cookware and bakeware if it’s still in workable condition. But if it’s not, your best bet is to drop off metal cookware at a scrap recycler. Chances are that metal pots, pans and baking sheets can’t be put in your curbside bin.
  • Metal construction materials: If you’ve just finished a construction project and have scraps left over, from nails and screws to sheets or pipes of metal, these can be recycled with other scrap metal at a scrap recycling center.
  • Wire hangers: If you do a lot of dry cleaning, those flimsy wire hangers really pile up. Keep them in good condition and return them to your dry cleaner. Or save them up and take them to the scrap recycler with your other metals. You can also bring them to your nearest thrift store; they are always in need of hangers.

The bottom line: If you have household metals that can’t go in your curbside container, you still have options for recycling them. It might be worthwhile to collect those outcast metal recyclables for periodic trips to your scrap recycler. Learn more ways to reduce, recycle and reuse at Recyclebank.com.

Recyclebank is a sustainability education and program that shares interactive tips for reducing, recycling, and reusing household items and rewards Phoenix residents for making a positive impact in their community. To learn more, sign up at Recyclebank.com.

Alyssa Ruggiero is the account manager for community marketing at Recyclebank, Phoenix’s new rewards program that educates and encourages residents to divert waste from the landfill through reusing, recycling or simply reducing materials.



  1. It’s a great thing that you were able to share here that many scrap metal recyclers will still accept an old oven. I’ll also keep in mind to loom for cookware or bakeware that could be donated. Well, my husband is having a hard time when it comes to disposing of the excess metals form his car parts, which is why he’s currently looking for a service that may help him out.

  2. It really helped when you stated that leftover metals from a construction project can be recycled for more value. My brother just got done with his big garage project and he seems to have ordered more materials than he needed. With a lot of steel bars, metal roof parts, and nails that he ended up not using, it’d be a waste to just leave them there to rust, so we’ll take your advice and look for any scrap metal services that can help take in the excess stuff we didn’t use.

  3. Great recycling tips to keep these metal items out of the landfill since they take a long time to decompose if they decompose at all… Great post


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