Environmental Protection

Even old bicycles and lawn chairs can be recycled.

Five Places in Your Home to Find Scrap Metal

As we start off the new year, Sims Metal Management is putting efforts toward the promotion of recycling household items, given that only 35 percent of Americans recycle, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While the recycling of paper, plastics, glass, rubber, cloth, and other such items are popular among many homeowners, recycling scrap metal is not. Few are aware of how many recyclable objects containing metals might be in their home. A recent infographic released by Sims Metal Management can help consumers understand what metals can be recycled and the enormous value generated via the recycling of these metals.

According to the Environmental Industry Association (EIA), 62 percent of Americans feel guilty if they don't recycle, however, oftentimes consumers aren't recycling simply because they are confused about which items are recyclable or not. Valuable scrap metal can be found in several places throughout an average home, but these are what we found to be the most common.

The first place to look would be a kitchen. Items such as faucets, cast-iron pots/pans, aluminum cans, and appliances are items to consider recycling when replacing them or if they are non-functional. Some of these items may be more convenient to transport than others, but keep in mind, the more metal the more value it may have, making your extra effort worth it.

Another area to look for scrap metal would be a living room. Do you have an old couch you are replacing or a television you need to get rid of because you upgraded? These are two common items found in the average living room; in addition to these are door knobs, entry doors, lamp bases – made from steel or aluminum – and lighting fixtures.

Fixtures and plumbing pipes found in the bathroom can be another source of copper that can be recycled at a scrap yard. Other household items to look for include metal shelving and electronic items.

While some items can be found inside the house, the garage, garden, and yard are great places where you may be storing equipment that is no longer used or useable -- from lawn chairs and tables to old garden tools, bikes, lawnmowers, weed eaters, and more. These are areas where you are sure to find valuable and recyclable items.

Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals – Knowing the Difference
While searching for recyclable items, it is important to understand which items might be more valuable than others. One way to identify a valuable item from a non-valuable item is to determine whether the metal contains iron. If it contains iron, it is known as "ferrous," and if not, it is known as "non-ferrous." Ferrous items include steel and, of course, iron and are less valuable, but they will be accepted and properly recycled. Non-ferrous items include copper, aluminum, brass, and bronze and have more value when brought to a scrap yard.

Americans currently waste $7 billion worth of recyclable materials. Wouldn't you rather have that money go back into the economy rather than tossed into the landfill? Regardless of value, when the aforementioned items are not properly recycled, resources go to waste.

Benefits to the Environment
Average people understand that recycling scrap metal benefits the environment, but do they know how? While there are several reasons to recycle, the primary benefits are recognized by the energy savings and the conservation of our natural resources. Even with only a 35 percent recovery rate, EPA estimates that the amount of greenhouse gas emissions saved is equivalent to removing 4.5 million cars from the road for a period of one year. Recycling scrap metal reduces greenhouse gas emissions and uses less energy than making metal from virgin ore. In considering the amount of energy it takes to manufacture an item made of virgin ore compared to an item made from recycled metals, 92 percent of the energy can be saved when using recycled aluminum, 91 percent for copper, and 56 percent for steel.

In addition to the energy saved, one must consider those finite resources that can be reused infinitely. By recycling one ton of steel, you can save 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone.

Taking the initiative to recycle scrap metal will not only help reduce your carbon footprint, but help sustain our planet in the future.

Finding a Local Scrap Metal Yard
Once recyclable items are identified, finding the right recycler is the next step. There are numerous scrap metal yards across the country where consumers and businesses can sell scrap metal in exchange for cash. To find a local Sims Metal Management site, you can visit the locations page on the U.S. website.

Hauling old materials to a scrap yard may seem intimidating to some, but the staff at most scrap yards should be able to explain the process and point customers in the right direction. Identification will be required to aid in the prevention of scrap metal theft, and sometimes fingerprints are taken, as well. Calling the recycler in advance can help you outline the process so instructions are understood prior to arrival.

The recycling industry annually transforms 150 million metric tons of obsolete materials from consumers, businesses, and manufacturers into useful raw materials, according to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI). Consumers, businesses, and manufacturers will continue to be encouraged to utilize these services available to help protect the environment and support green jobs. This year, remember that sourcing valuable metals from around your home and recycling them can help the sustainable development of the planet.

Bob Kelman is the president of Sims Metal Management, the world's largest metals and electronics recycler.

Posted by Bob Kelman on Feb 03, 2014 at 12:31 AM


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