Climate change is a hugely debated topic on a local, national, and international level. As the importance of environmental sustainability has become more apparent, so has the hype surrounding recycling. However, even with its growing popularity across the globe, many questions about recycling still linger. Is it worth the effort? Is recycled waste just going to end up in a landfill in China? Is recycling metal as important as recycling plastic?

On the surface, recycling is a great idea. Waste has a huge negative impact on the natural environment and recycling helps to reduce the pollution caused by waste. But, here’s the caveat: It’s only effective if it’s done correctly.

So, in order to help you help the environment, let’s answer a few of your most basic questions about scrap metal recycling!

Does recycling do more harm than good?

Aside from the fact that recycling prevents us from burying our waste in the ground, studies have found that it actually requires double the energy to manufacture products from virgin materials versus materials from recyclables. This includes the energy used for collecting, hauling and processing the recycled products. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling just one ton of aluminum cans can conserve the equivalent of 1,024 gallons of gasoline. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has reported that recycling metal could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 300 million to 500 million tons. The numbers are in. Recycling is worth it.

Can all metals be recycled?

In some cases, metal cannot be recycled if it potentially contains toxins or other hazardous materials. Examples of potentially toxic metal items that should not be recycled include empty paint cans, motor oil cans, propane gas tanks, and pots and pans.

Are batteries recyclable?

While batteries contain a number of materials that are recyclable, you should never throw your batteries in the bin. Batteries are made with many toxic chemicals such as lead, lithium, and mercury that can leech into the soil and cause environmental and health hazards. You should always recycle batteries at proper recycling facilities or at a battery bank that can be found at nearby supermarkets, community centers, or even in your workplace.

Should wires be recycled or thrown in the garbage?

Wires and cables should never go in the garbage or in the recycling bin. They typically contain metals like copper that make them extremely hazardous if put in the trash. It is extremely important that you never recycle cables with other household recyclables. If you have electrical wiring, you should always recycle it as scrap metal.

What’s the difference between ferrous and non-ferrous metals?

Ferrous metals contain a large percentage or iron or steel, while non-ferrous metals are typically iron-free. The best way to test whether or not your metal is ferrous is with a magnet – if the magnet sticks to the metal, it is ferrous. A magnet will not cling to non-ferrous metals. Not every scrap metal recycling facility will accept both so always be sure to check first!

What are some common examples of household scrap metals that should be recycled at proper recycling facilities?

  • Kitchen appliances such as refrigerators and stoves
  • Window frames
  • Automotive parts
  • Ladders
  • Pots and pans
  • Utensils and cutlery
  • Coat hangers
  • Door knobs and hinges
  • Screws, bolts, nails and tools
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Air vents and ducts
  • Wires and cables
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Power tools
  • Exercise equipment
  • Thermostats
  • Extension cords
  • Aluminum siding
  • Ironing boards
  • Patio furniture
  • Bicycles

Now that you have a better understanding of scrap metal recycling, we hope you’ll help us do our part to preserve the environment. Let’s recycle today for a better tomorrow.