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Not-So-Heavy Metal

Most people are aware that recycling aluminum cans saves almost all of the energy that is required to make cans from scratch (95%). Recycling aluminum cans is easy, as most townships take them in their recycling programs. Some states even still have container deposit laws that will pay people for their cans.

There are other metal items that are also recyclable, but the options to recycle them are not as simple. For example, while a whole can of tuna is recyclable, if the lid becomes detached from the can, the chances of it getting recycled through your town’s recycling collection efforts are minute. The lid is just too small to make it through the automated process at the recycler and often ends up contaminating another recycling stream.

I have found a few local options that have been referenced on these pages before that will gladly take a variety of metal items, regardless of their size. They are Michael Brothers and Westmoreland Cleanways and Recycling. I am sure most communities have places that will not only take metal but will pay you for it depending on the type. Here is a list of some metal items that I recycle locally:

  • Lids from cans if they separate from the can, including lids from tennis ball cans

  • Pie plates (clean)

  • Bottle caps

  • Lids from glass jars (e.g., salsa)

  • Hangers

  • Hardware (e.g., screws, nails, and washers)

  • Metal binding from an old spiral-bound notebook

  • Fastener from white take-out containers (e.g., rice container from Chinese take-out)

Aluminum foil is also recyclable, but it is hard to find places that will do so. I have confirmed that Westmoreland Cleanways and Recycling will take it, if it is clean and balled up into balls that are at least several inches wide.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it’s easy to consider adding these less-thought-of metals to your recycling routine!

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