Recycling facts about metals

Written by kim leslie
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Recycling facts about metals
(Wikimedia Commons)

Metal is capable of being infinitely recycled making it one of most desirable scrap commodities today. There are many types of metals that are routinely recycled. Household recycling bins typically only contain tin, aluminium and steel.


Like any other industry, recycling is based on market need. So while all metals can be recycled only a few actually are. These include tin, copper, zinc, iron, aluminium, steel and lead.


Some metals cannot be recycled because they were contaminated with radiation. These are handled as hazardous waste instead.

Highest Recycling Rate

Out of metals found in household recycling bins, the metal with the highest recycling rate is steel. Specifically, 64.3 per cent of steel cans were recycled in 2007.


Metal is collected from households through the kerbside recycling programs and drop-off sites. Approximately 85 per cent of American households have access to recycling programs. Businesses also recycle metals as part of their waste management.

What Happens Next

The metal collected goes into a sorter to remove any contamination such as non-metal items. The metal is then washed and further separated by type. Then the metals are sent to various foundries for smelting and reuse.

Business is Good

Recycling is often the purview of small businesses but in recent years large-scale operations have started to dominate because of perceived profits. Metal is in such high demand that many states have had to pass legislation specifically dealing with copper theft, for instance. These laws typically limit the amount of metal you can turn in and how much money you can get in one day for it.

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