What Household Metals Can and Can’t Be Recycled

Truth be told, our houses are full of metals in a variety of forms including cutlery, dishes, and even cans. And while they are durable and convenient, it can be tricky figuring out what to do with them at the end of their lifespans.

To help you out, today we are going to tell you which ones can be recycled and which ones can’t. So if this is something that has been bothering you for a while now, sit back and relax – we have all the answers.

What household metals can be recycled?

Some household metals that can be recycled include:

Cans and containers

Popularly made of aluminum, food containers and beverage cans are very recyclable, so much so that some curbside recycling programs only accept this type of household metal.

However, you may be required to do some things before taking these items for recycling. For instance, for cans, you will have to clean them and remove all their labels. This ensures that they maintain their purity throughout the recycling process.

High levels of impurity can make it necessary to add some pure aluminum to the recycled material before it is made into new cans, defeating the purpose of recycling in the first place.

Old appliances and gadgets

Many retailers of appliances and gadgets now offer pickup and recycling services.

For instance, Apple has a recycling program through which they can take your old gadgets and recycle them for free.

Dell has a great program as well – it recycles all old Dell products for free and will even take those that aren’t Dell branded if you are buying one of their products at the time.

Even Dyson and Nintendo have similar programs.

Ultimately, as long as you do adequate research before buying household appliances and gadgets, you will find a company that will recycle them for you when the time comes.

Old cars

If your car is way too old and rickety to be sold, you can recycle it. However, you can’t do this on your own – you have to take it to a scrap dealer who is capable of handling the toxic fluids within and dismantling the various metallic parts.

Metallic candy wrappers and chip bags

These are only recyclable if they don’t go back to their original shape after being crumpled.

If they do, this means the metal used to make them is mixed and melted with plastic. And since it is difficult and expensive to separate the two, most recyclers just won’t accept this kind of material.

Stainless steel sinks

If you want to get rid of your old stainless steel sink, we have good news for you – it can easily be recycled. All you have to do is ensure that it is clean and free of any rubber or plastic.

Such materials will devalue the sink when you take it over to the scrap metal dealers.

Copper piping, wiring, and tubing

Copper exists in many forms in our modern houses – in the wiring, in the piping, and even in the tubing. And yet it is one of the most valued metals by scrap dealers. So if you have some of it lying around, you can help save the environment and gain a few dollars as well.

Aluminum furniture

If you are one of those people that uses aluminum furniture for your backyard or patio, you will be glad to know that once you are done with it you can easily recycle it.

All you have to do is ensure it is clean and you’re good to go.

Propane gas tanks

Just in case you didn’t know – propane tanks can be recycled, even though many recycling programs don’t accept them.

For one, companies like Blue Rhino let you swap an empty tank for a full one or just outrightly recycle it for you.

Alternatively, you could look into whether your local solid waste district accepts these tanks.


Old cookware can be disposed of in a variety of ways.

You can sell them or even repurpose them to hold things around the house. However, if these options don’t sound appealing to you, you could always recycle your pots and pans.

Some curbside recycling programs accept them as a form of scrap metal. However, these are only around 5% of all curbside recycling programs. Therefore you would have better luck looking for a scrap metal recycling program in your area.

Before you do this though, you will need to remove any plastic parts and figure out whether your cookware is made of ferrous or nonferrous metal. This is because most metal recycling programs only accept these two metal types.

What’s more if your cookware is non-stick, you’ll have a harder time finding a recycling option. This is because its polytetrafluoroethylene layer will need to be removed before recycling is done.


Much like metallic cookware, cutlery can be recycled – you just need to find a recycling program that will take them. Whether they are made of stainless steel or aluminum, they should be fine.

What household metals can’t be recycled?

Unfortunately, there are some household metals that no recycling program will accept. These include:

Paint cans

Unless you can get all the paint out of these cans, they can’t be recycled. This is because the paint may contain toxins such as mercury so they are usually labeled as household hazardous waste and disposed of accordingly.

Motor oil cans

Much like paint cans, motor oil cans can’t be recycled due to the toxic chemicals they hold. In this case, the chemicals can emulsify within the cans and prove hazardous to the environment. As a result, these cans are usually disposed of carefully at a waste drop-off center.

There is much you can do

While there are some household metals that you can’t recycle, there are many more that you can – and these are the ones you should concentrate on.

As long as you do your part to help the environment, you really shouldn’t beat yourself up.

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