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How to Recycle Scrap Metal and Other Hard-to-Recycle Materials

You can’t put everything in a recycling bin, but you can still keep it from ending up in the dump. Most hard-to-recycle materials can be taken to a waste program or recycling center for safe and environmentally friendly disposal.

Request Pickup of Refrigerated Appliances

Freezers, coolers, and air conditioners often use fluorocarbon refrigerants as a cooling agent. Fluorocarbons are environmentally dangerous, but they can be reclaimed and recycled after an appliance has stopped working. Both commercial and residential appliances should be recycled.

Be careful transporting appliances that contain fluorocarbons. You can usually make an appointment to have a recycling company pick up your appliance. The services in your area may differ; check with appliance retailers, scrap metal centers, and recycling programs.

Take Fluorescent Light Bulbs to a Hazardous Waste Center

Fluorescent bulbs contain a small amount of mercury. After the bulb goes out, you should treat it as a piece of hazardous waste. Don’t break the bulb; the mercury inside can still be reclaimed and put to use.

Transport the bulbs to your local hazardous waste collection center. Some communities also hold hazardous waste collection events on a semi-yearly basis. You can also drop off other toxic items like paint or cleaning chemicals.

Sell Scrap Metal to a Metal Processor

Although some recycling programs make take scrap metal or junk items, you will have better luck at a scrap metal recycling center. Companies that offer dedicated scrap metal services are able to handle more types of metal and significantly larger items. You may even be paid for the metal you donate.

Most scrap metal companies accept both ferrous and non-ferrous metal. Ferrous metals like iron and steel are magnetic. Non-ferrous metals like aluminum and copper are not magnetic; they are also easier to reclaim and more valuable to processing companies.

Bring Automobile Waste to an Auto Shop

Transmission oil, engine oil, antifreeze, and power steering fluid are all hazardous or difficult to recycle. These items may be flammable or poisonous and simply can’t be thrown into a regular dump.

Many auto shops can dispose of old car batteries and used motor fluids. Large chain shops are more likely to have a recycling program, but many mechanics are willing to take used motor oil. Always call ahead before you bring anything to an auto shop for recycling and make sure they are able to accept it.

Your city government will be able to direct you to additional recycling services in your area. Be careful when you handle hazardous substances and always bring recyclables to a professional service or program.

  • Lizzie Weakley, the author of this post, is a freelance writer.
  • Pic courtesy: Pixabay

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