Good, Better, Best — Reducing Metal Waste

Good, Better, Best — Reducing Metal Waste

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This is the third in a series of articles about lowering the quantity of the commonest supplies in family waste.

Metal is the fifth most typical materials in family rubbish, after paper, meals, plastic, and yard waste. Unlike the opposite high gadgets, steel is inert in a landfill and can’t be burned.

Mining metal is among the many world’s most environmentally damaging industries. Fortunately, as soon as mined, most steel is infinitely recyclable (which means that the fabric doesn’t degrade after repeated recycling). Because of this, people who find themselves dedicated to minimizing waste might discover themselves utilizing extra steel as they attempt to eliminate plastic waste.

Sustainability is a journey, not a single alternative. Wherever you’re in your journey, listed below are the subsequent steps that can assist you maintain steel out of the rubbish.

Metal Waste

Metals are persistently among the many most precious recyclable commodities. In reality, you may be capable of make money recycling your scrap steel.

Classified as both ferrous or nonferrous, all metals are technically recyclable (though many merchandise that include steel usually are not). Ferrous metals, similar to metal, include iron and might be recognized with a magnet, and is likely one of the most incessantly recycled supplies on this planet. Nonferrous metals embrace aluminum — the aluminum can is probably the most recycled shopper product within the U.S. — in addition to copper, lead, zinc, and tin.

Precious metals like gold and silver, in addition to the rare earth elements essential to technological gadgets, are additionally nonferrous.


It’s good to begin with the best step: Participate in your curbside recycling program.

Nearly each curbside program will settle for aluminum and metal cans, and lots of may also settle for bigger items of scrap steel. Even in case your neighborhood doesn’t have curbside service, you possibly can obtain the iRecycle app or search the Earth911 recycling database in your pc to discover a steel recycler close to you.


If you’re already recycling your cans, begin engaged on a number of the trickier metals.

  • Metal lids from metal cans and glass jars, and metal or aluminum bottle caps require special handling to be safely recycled.
  • Reuse aluminum foil for so long as it’s useful. When you possibly can’t reuse it anymore, clear off any meals particles and ball it up for recycling.
  • The chemical coating on nonstick cookware makes the steel nonrecyclable. As your nonstick pans put on out, change them with forged iron. Your forged iron cookware will outlive you.
  • Metal paint cans, oil cans, and propane tanks are all thought of hazardous waste in most communities. However, there are restricted recycling alternatives for propane canisters and the unused paint left in cans. Use your iRecycle app to search out out if such packages exist close to you.
  • Learn the right way to look after ferrous metals to reduce rust. This will prolong the objects’ helpful life and facilitate recycling on the finish of it.
  • Reuse is simply as vital as recycling. Whenever potential, purchase second-hand. Unlike different supplies, steel is sturdy sufficient to outlive a number of generations of use earlier than recycling.


When you’re attempting to attain zero waste, merely avoiding steel just isn’t an choice. Metal is commonly the sturdy, recyclable various for different supplies. But if you’re prepared to take the time, you are able to do higher than “higher” about lowering steel waste.

  • Closing the loop by shopping for merchandise made with recycled steel is just a little completely different from different merchandise. You gained’t discover “constituted of recycled supplies” or “recycled content material” labels on metals. The typical recycled content material of steel is 25-35%. The recycled content material of aluminum varies by producer and product, however aluminum cans common 73%. For some steel merchandise, like jewelry, there are suppliers working particularly with recycled metals. Seek them out.
  • Few merchandise are made out of a single materials. Learn to disassemble merchandise on the finish of their life to be able to separate the recyclable steel components from different components that have to be thrown away.
  • The uncommon earth components in electronics make up a really small quantity of steel waste however have an outsized environmental impact. Unfortunately, solely around 1% of uncommon earth components are recycled from shopper merchandise. Take the time to find out about electronics recycling, and be taught to fix broken gadgets as a substitute of changing them. Before buying new gadgets, think about whether or not you really want sensible home equipment and different stealth electronics, or whether or not a extra simply recyclable low-tech choice will do.
  • Tossing issues within the trash is simple, and responsibly disposing of outdated gadgets might be onerous. After disassembling a fuel grill and different gadgets for his or her recyclable components, a brand new simple choice might start to look extra interesting: Use much less, interval. Understanding the complete life cycle of a product usually makes shopping for a brand new one much less interesting.

Read half 4 on this collection: Good, Better, Best — Reducing Textile Waste

Editor’s be aware: This article was initially revealed on April 20, 2020.