What Types of Metal Can Be Recycled?

Metals such as aluminum, iron, copper, brass, bronze, steel, tin and numerous precious metals are recyclable. Metals unfit for recycling include mercury, lead and radioactive materials such as plutonium or uranium.

Aluminum is a commonly recycled metal that is present in everyday objects such as soda cans and foil. These materials are easy to recycle by placing them in recycling bins for collection by local refuse agencies. Steel is another common metal in the recycling industry, and it is used to make aerosol cans and sometimes cans for food products. Tin cans are typically steel cans with a thin tin layer on the outside. Most tin for recycling comes from pewter and lead-free solder.

Metals such as copper, brass, bronze and iron are often found in larger items such as pipes or cast iron pots and pans. Refuse collection agencies often collect these objects if they are not too large, but it is often more beneficial to turn in large pieces of scrap metal to companies that pay for it. Precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum can also yield cash. Old or broken jewelry or electronics account for most of the precious metals recycles.

The only metals unfit for recycling are those that are hazardous. Heavy metals such as mercury and lead fall into this category, as do any radioactive metals. Mercury thermometers or cathode ray tubes are common objects that contain non-recyclable metals.