Recycling Q&A: What Should We Do With Metals — Like Towel Bars or Brass?

Recycling Q&A: What Should We Do With Metals — Like Towel Bars or Brass?

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series of recycling Q&A tips from Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Got a question or idea for a recycling tip? Contact Jarland at 630-208-3841 or

Q: Can We Revisit Metals For a Moment?

Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for all the info about recycling plastics. I’m trying to remember it all!

Can we revisit metals for a moment? We just finished a construction project that involved replacing old towel bars with new ones. They are pitted and I’m sure nobody would want them if sent to a building resale place. Can they be put into recycling? I believe some are brass which might be “valuable” to a metal recycler …

Thanks as always for your insights.

— Nancy

A: …

Hi Nancy,

Another great question that I may use for my next article! Thank you.

No, scrap metal cannot go in your recycling bin. Though it is as you say valuable and highly recyclable at scrap metal facilities, it cannot be easily sorted at the municipal recycling facilities and will cause problems in the sort line. The only metal things we want in the curbside recycling bin are cans: food cans (aka “tin cans”) made of steel and beverage cans made of aluminum.

Other kinds of metal, including old barbecue grills, wires, pipes, siding, fencing, broken shovels, kitchen sinks, propane tanks, towel racks, pots and pans, microwaves or rusty bike parts CANNOT GO IN YOUR CURBSIDE BIN!

They are recyclable but only if kept separate and taken to a scrap metal recycling facility.

Personally, I think the easiest and best way to get rid of scrap metal is to put it on the curb (or alley as the case may be) the day before trash day with a FREE sign on it. There is a large underground recycling industry here in the form of scrappers who go around collecting metal and then taking it to the metal recyclers to sell it.

They make some money, and the metals get recycled. And you get rid of your metal for free!

If that doesn’t work or you would rather do it yourself, you can take it yourself to one of the scrap metal recyclers on this list and depending on how much you have, you may even get a few cents for it.

Thanks again for your dedication and attention to RECYCLING RIGHT!

Read More Recycling Q&A Articles!