A Guide to Metal Recycling

Going green and recycling to support the environment has become a lasting trend. People around the world are working to recycle, repurpose, and reuse. But there is more to recycling and repurposing than you likely know. It is astonishing to know how much of a positive impact this movement has on the planet.

Approximately 250 million tons of trash is created every year by Americans alone. Many cities have started implementing recycling programs and placing recycling bins in public places to help reduce waste and trash – hoping to address this challenge. The most common recycling bins that are provided include bins for every day items such as newspaper, office paper, glass, and metals (soda cans).

Although not all types of metals are recyclable many common household metals are. Common metals you find around your home include metal cans, toys, tools, and car parts. Radioactive metals or objects containing mercury and/or lead cannot be recycled as easily. It is also best to avoid discarding precious metals that may have a monetary value such as silver, gold, or platinum.

As the green movement continues to grow a vast amount of energy, oil, and landfill space is saved. Aside from metal recycling there are various other materials such as plastic, glass, and paper. A quick Google search for metal recycling near me can guide you to centers that are willing to pay you for your efforts as well.

Recycling Saves Energy and Space

Resources such as paper and cardboard are made from trees, plastics are derived from oil, metals are mined from ores, and glass is made from sand. When we recycle, trees do not have to be chopped down which protects our planet and no extraction is required for mining or gathering raw materials which reduces our need for energy to produce the things we use in our daily lives.

For example, aluminum is made using Bauxite, a compound mineral that has to be mined. Once mined it is transported by trucks to chemical plants for processing. The chemical processes separate impurities and bring out a more pure form of aluminum.  It takes approximately 4 tons of Bauxite to create 1 ton of aluminum.

Alternatively to get aluminum from recycled soda requires less than half of the energy, processing, and time. This process and example is true for most recyclable metals. Recycling separates reusable materials from the trash and is sent to be processed in the appropriate type of metal recycling facility near you.

Understanding Metal Recycling

Metal remains the second largest material recycled according to The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2008 it accounted for more than 35 percent of recycled material. Being aware of the core processes involved in recycling metals inspires more people to maximize their efforts in recycling. Below we have outlined metal recycling processes to inspire more people and organizations to get involved.


Collecting metal to recycle is the first step. Separating small items at home such as aluminum, steel, and tin cans is simple and fast. Larger items such as kitchen appliances, car parts, or auto mobiles may require you to make arrangements with your a local center offering metal recycling near you and request that they collect them from your home.


Once all the materials reach the recycling center, they are sorted. Usually, steel is separated first by a large magnet, then aluminum and copper is separated by hand and manually inspected for moisture, grade, and quality.


After sorting into appropriate metal types, the recycled metals are individually put into a shredding machine that cuts them into small pieces. They are then tested for radiation and placed under another process to remove any remnants of paint or other material from them.

Baling and Melting

The shredded metals are then compressed into cubes for convenient transportation and sent to smelting facilities. The cubes are placed into furnaces and then they are poured into molds to form ingots.


Fabrication is the final step in which the cooled ingots are rolled into machines that flatten them into sheets. These sheets are then used as raw material to manufacture many types of things for a variety of purposes such as soda cans, appliances, car parts, pipes, aluminum foils, metal furniture, airplanes, and ships.

Repurposing Metal

An astounding amount of trash is created by people and communities as a whole. As populations grow and people continue to build communities it is important to remember that doing your part to recycle and repurpose c

an have a positive impact. Packaging, food containers, shipping units and everything else in between are being thrown into landfills that continue to affect the planet.

Repurposing items is a simple response to increased awareness about going green and spreading the word on how to recycle and reuse as much as they can. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are buzzing with feeds that provide many ways to repurpose items in your home rather than forsaking them. Whether you want to decorate your home or need stylish storage space ideas, there is always a way to repurpose metal.

Metal Cans

There are creative ways to use metal cans from coffee, tuna, foods, and other metal cans in your pantry. Metal cans can be used for storage, vases, as planters, or even as ornaments for your porch or garden area as hanging lights. Creating tin can monsters is a fun project with the kids too.

Galvanized Tubs

Originally these buckets or tubs were used to do laundry by hand. In modern times people use them for different reasons and purposes. They are repurposed as planters for inside and outside of the home and in gardens. You can also cover the opening of the tub  with a flat round piece of wood so that its reused as a storage table.

Metal Baskets

These wire baskets can be attached to a wall and used as storage or display. They can serve various attractive purposes for storage or holding books, towels, socks, or sporting goods. For contemporary planters, this is a great option. Also consider inverting the container and using it as a creative light fixture.

Steel Rods

Depending on how they’ve been used before, steel rods can be reshaped into a foundation for furniture, such as tables or chairs. Steel pipes can be repurposed to build shelves. Big tubes can be cut to make stylish window herb gardens.

Find Metal Recycling Near Me

To join the movement visit a local recycling center to learn more about the most common recycled items in your community. Volunteer at a metal recycling center near by to gain a first hand account of how recycling works and what you can do to prepare your metals for the process. Recycling not only impacts the environment but can also pay you for your metal and your recycling efforts.