4 Types of Metals That Can Be Recycled

Metal recycling is performed at numerous scrap metal facilities and recycling centers across the United States. Metals maintain their value comparatively well and are among the most manageable materials to recycle. The majority of metal types can be repeatedly recycled without any impact to their essential properties.


Recycling as many metal items as possible helps protect the environment by decreasing energy consumption and redirecting metals that would be dumped into landfills as waste. Some metals that account for a large percentage of the bulk of US American metal recycling include the following:

1. Aluminum

Recycling an aluminum item can be performed using only a small percent of the energy required to extract the elements of aluminum and manufacture a new item like it. An average home can be powered for a decade from the amount of energy saved by recycling a ton of aluminum. So, recycling aluminum building materials, food containers and beverage cans add up quickly to make a significant difference in environmental impact. It’s a way of reducing emissions and keeping prices down on a wide range of common items.

New food and beverage containers and sheet metal can be produced from recycled aluminum, as well as multitudes of types of mechanical equipment, car parts.

2. Copper

Human use of copper began thousands of years ago, for a variety of primitive purposes. Today, copper is used for everything from building products such as electrical wiring and plumbing pipes, to jewelry. Copper’s beautiful coloring is very appealing for applications in interior decorating. Even after many millennia of use, copper, only a small percentage the earth’s total copper has been extracted. This positive environmental news is owing to the ongoing very high copper recycling rates, which are due to the metal’s high retention of its value.

In fact, scrap copper retains more than ninety percent of the value of newly mined copper. This makes copper an especially valuable recyclable material for people who resell scrap copper. Recycling copper earns a good return on investment of time and works for copper scrap dealer, and it helps conserve the finite supply of this very important natural resource.

3. Steel

Steel recycling began over 150 years ago. New steel products can be created by melting down iron, or steel alloys, like stainless steel. Manufacturers recycle steel construction beams, an endless array of steel equipment and machinery. Residential recycling includes steel food containers and cans used for a vast number of household maintenance purposes. Appliances and many furniture items contain steel framing or casing that are recycled, diverting massive amounts of recyclable steel away from landfills.


Recycled steel is used in auto manufacturing, construction framing, and other such large applications. The EPA has reported that recycling steel requires only a fraction of the overall expense and energy resources necessary to produce new steel. Recycling allows manufacturers to depend upon lower cost steel supplies, instead of much more expensive new steel materials. That serves to keep prices lower on a vast number of common consumer products that we use daily.

4. Lead

Lead is among the most important of recyclable materials, though it may not occur to us that it is relevant to our lives today. Lead is used in construction materials, car batteries, and in scientific and medical equipment, and protective guards in hospitals and physicians’ offices. When objects containing lead are discarded in landfills, the lead ends up in groundwater, which then harms fish and contaminates drinking water supplies. Lead in drinking water has been linked to nerve damage and kidney damage, and to learning disabilities in children.