What Metals Can Be Recycled?

Among other sustainable practices, recycling is a great way to decrease our carbon footprint. Most people already know what to do with plastics, paper, and glass, among other mainstream household materials. However, when it comes to metal, the story is still a little bit different.

You’d be surprised at the number of people who think metal recycling is limited to aluminum cans. Yet, the truth is that it’s possible to reuse almost every type of metal there is under the sun. Read on to find out what metals you can recycle.

Recycling Metals: What’s Fair Game and What’s Not?

Our furniture, appliances, cars, computers, and even our phones need this essential material to exist. However, all of these items have a limited service life. Whether it is because they break or become obsolete, you’ll eventually have to get rid of them.

Now, stop and think about all the metal you’ve ever sent to the landfill. Did you know most of it was reusable? Well, it’s never too late to learn which metals you can recycle. Here’s a handy list to help you out:


This lightweight, non-magnetic metal is quite popular. You can find it in several electric appliances around your home and office. It’s also the go-to material for making cans, window frames, foil, and food packaging.


This copper and zinc alloy is perfect for screws and other machine parts. Electrical terminals, door locks, jewelry, wind instruments, and radiator components are ideal for brass scrap recycling.


This non-ferrous metal is an excellent electricity conductor. That’s why you can look for it in computers and electronics. Other common uses of gold are jewelry, dental prostheses, coinage, and artificial limb joints.


This malleable metal has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity of them all. It’s perfect for electrical contacts and some types of batteries. You can find it in dental fillings, jewelry, and mirrors too.


This versatile metal is one of the most common elements for electronic use. It offers remarkable conductivity, which is why you’ll find it in most wires. Cooper is also a popular choice for motors, cookware, plumbing supplies, and rainspouts.


One of the most durable options out there when adequately treated, steel is used for heavy-duty objects. You’ll find it in rods, automotive parts, bars, pipes, rods, and valves. 


This relatively soft non-ferrous material is a staple in construction. It has so many uses that you probably have it somewhere at home. Look for it in pipes, gutters, cable sheathing, and gym weights.

What Metals Can’t You Recycle?

Note that no scrap yard will take any material that’s potentially dangerous or toxic. Here are some prominent examples of metals you cannot recycle:


You can find this heavy metal in many household items such as thermometers, fluorescent lamps, and thermostats. However, you need to know how to dispose of it to avoid putting your health at risk.

Radioactive Metals

Chances are you’ll never even get anywhere near to coming in contact with uranium or plutonium, but you never know. Either way, it’s safe to say such hazardous metals are not recyclable.

Clean and Green

Next time you’re throwing out an old bathtub, your bed frame, or your broken smartphone, think green! Recycling metal is easy, and you can even make money out of it! So sort your scraps out and recycle away!