Recycling's Dirty Dozen: Keep Scrap Metal OUT of Your Curbside Cart

Recycling’s Dirty Dozen: Keep Scrap Metal OUT of Your Curbside Cart

  • Editor’s Note: This article is written by Will County Recycling Program Specialist Marta Keane along with Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland, both of whom are members of the Illinois Task Force for Recycling Contamination Solutions. The article is part of a year-long a series on the “Dirty Dozen” of recycling — the 12 items that should NOT go in the recycling cart. Got local questions or concerns? Contact Jarland at at 630-208-3841 or

Old metal hangers or BBQ grills, broken gutters, and even some car parts are all recyclable — but none of them can be placed in curbside recycling carts.

Please take these items to scrap yards for recycling.

Scrap metal is highly recyclable if you drop it off. Metal recycling is as old as the invention of metal, but it has never officially been taken curbside.

Some scrappers might snap things up if left at the curb the night before trash day. They take it to the scrap-metal-recycling facilities and get a few bucks for it, and it gets recycled in the process! But that doesn’t work in all areas, so be prepared to drop it off yourself.

Melting metal that has already been made from iron ore or bauxite (base metal for aluminum) is far more efficient than processing virgin metal, saving energy in transportation, creating less air pollution, and even reducing energy use as it melts at lower temperatures than raw material!

People often make the mistake of randomly tossing metal items in the curbside recycling cart, which may result in the item not being recycled and will likely damage the sorting equipment at the sorting facility. Just as plastic bags or garden hoses wrap themselves around the conveyor belts, the odd metal items can tear through, dent or break the facility equipment.

Scrap metal holds value on the commodities market, and you can recycle your beverage and food cans and clean, balled-up aluminum foil in the curbside recycling cart.

But large, odd-shaped metal objects cannot go in your cart and ultimately to the sorting facilities because of the reasons above, so you need to find a local scrap yard and drop it off to ensure it is recycled.

You can google “scrap metal” and your zip code to find your nearest locations. Also here is a link to a shortlist of some local metal recycling facilities.

The list is provided as a service to residents and is updated intermittently or when changes are brought to our attention. Residents are encouraged to call the recycling centers to verify recycling information.

Inclusion in the list is not an endorsement of any of these companies, nor has the county purposely excluded any parties that provide these services.​

Read The ‘Dirty Dozen’ Series!

Read More