How to Recycle Metal

Recycle Metal
Metal encompasses everything from aluminum foil to clothes hangers, but it can all be recycled in some way. Curbside collection programs often exist for metals like aluminum cans, while other metals have to be taken to a drop-off center that can properly recycle or dispose of the material.

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Frequent Metal Recycling Questions

What types of metal are considered scrap?

The most common metals accepted by scrap yards include copper, steel, aluminum, brass, iron and wires. But your local scrap yard may accept additional metals for recycling and give you cash payouts for your scrap metals. Call a few scrap yards in your area ahead of time for a list of scrap metals they accept for recycling or jump to the recycling locator to find a location now.

How can I tell what type of metal I have?

The easiest way to determine what type of metal you’re dealing with is to use a magnet. If the magnet sticks to your metal, you have a ferrous metal in your hands, such as steel or iron. Most ferrous metals are not worth much money at scrap yards, but the scrap yard will still accept it and make sure it is recycled properly.

If the magnet doesn’t stick, you have a non-ferrous metal, such as copper, aluminum, brass, stainless steel or bronze. These metals are very valuable to recycle and are worth more money at scrap yards.

From there, you can use color, texture and other visual aids to figure out exactly what type of metal you’re dealing with.

What metals can I resell?

Non-ferrous metals, such as copper, aluminum, brass, stainless steel and bronze, are worth more money at scrap yards. Ferrous metals, like steel and iron, are not as valuable, but scrap yards will still accept these metals for recycling.

How can I find out how much different metals are worth?

This basic guide will give you a general estimate of how much each type of metal is worth at a scrap yard. But the best way to determine the payout you’ll receive in your area is to call each scrap yard individually ahead of time. Cash payouts may differ slightly from yard to yard, so you may want to “shop around” a bit for the best price.

Do I have to have a lot of metal to take it to a scrap yard?

Scrap yards will accept any quantity of metal for recycling, but your payout is determined by weight. If you bring only a few pieces of metal to the scrap yard, they will still recycle it for you, but you’ll likely receive little or no payout for your metals.

If you’re looking for more cash, try storing metals until you’ve stockpiled a decent amount, or head to the scrap yard with friends and neighbors for a larger payout for all.

Can I take my old metal hangers back to the dry cleaner for reuse/recycling?

Many dry cleaners will gladly accept wire hangers for reuse, and some even have designated collection bins for unwanted hangers. If your local dry cleaner does not accept wire hangers, you may also be able to recycle them through your local curbside program. Jump to the recycling locator to find a program near you. Note that not all curbside programs accept hangers, so check with your local recycling coordinator or use the locator below before tossing hangers into your curbside bin.
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