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Which Metal Items Cannot be Recycled

Posted on 12 June 2016 by Admin

We all know the common items we should recycle. Paper, plastic, and compost pretty much hit the nail on the head. There is, however, a lot of confusion surrounding metal recycling. It’s just as important to know what metals you should be recycling as it is to know the items that cannot be recycled. Our goal is to make our metal recycling service as convenient for you as possible. To do this, we have provided a list of metal items that are NOT recyclable.   

Understanding which metals cannot be recycled

While most people know the basics of metal recycling, there are some points that must also be understood. Being aware of the types of metal that cannot be recycled makes things easier for you and recycling centers. If you choose to clean up your garage and make some extra money through local recycling, knowing which items that you can redeem for money is essential. Recognizing the metals that cannot be recycled will also make the process easier. This will avoid problems down the line, especially the potential for contaminating an entire load of items you want to recycle. When it comes to metal recycling, the more informed you are, the better.

In some cases, metal cannot be recycled if it potentially contains toxins. Examples of potentially toxic metal items are empty paint cans, motor oil cans, and pots and pans. These items cannot be recycled. Instead, they should be disposed of at a hazardous waste depot. Here is a list of items that CANNOT be recycled:

1. Paint Cans

Paint cans with any traces of paint are not accepted at any local recycling centers. This because they potentially carry toxins within the leftover remnants of paint. Older household paint (latex paint) may contain traces of mercury. These items will be labeled with household hazardous waste (HHW) symbol, indicating its toxicity. Paint cans should be disposed of properly at a hazardous waste drop off center. This will ensure proper disposal with no environmental implications. You can find a list here of drop-off depots in Toronto here.

2. Motor oil cans

Motor oil paint cans cannot be recycled for the same reason as paint cans. The harsh chemicals that have emulsified within the metal of the cans can be hazardous to air quality and the environment. To give you an idea of how toxic even a trace of motor oil can be, a representative for Earth911.com stated, “One gallon of motor oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of freshwater. For this reason, motor oil cans should be disposed of at a hazardous waste drop-off center.

3. Pots and pans

Although pots and pans are not hazardous, they are not regularly accepted at local scrap metal recycling centers for cash refunds. This is because many pots and pans have a coat over top of the metal to prevent chemicals from the metal from seeping into food. A well-known example of this type of coat is called Teflon (Polytetrafluoroethylene). Teflon helps prevent food from being contaminated with certain chemicals and prevents food from sticking to the pot or pan. This coating is highly beneficial for cooking, but cannot be recycled at a metal recycling center due to possible environmental hazards.

4. Propane gas tanks

Propane gas tanks are one of the most common items that people try to recycle. These gas tanks cannot be recycled because of their interaction with propane gas. Propane tanks fall under the same category as motor oil cans and paint cans in terms of their hazard. Propane tanks are known to cause fires and explosions if a leak occurs when in an enclosed space. When stored, a major hazard is boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion (BLEVE). They, therefore, cannot be resold for at any value at metal recycling centers. Propane gas tanks must be disposed of properly at a hazardous waste site.

5. Items that contain mercury

Today, product manufacturers in Canada are prohibited from using mercury in most consumer products. Therefore, consumers must be cautious when buying products. Exposure to mercury can seriously compromise health (especially in the young and the elderly) and has detrimental impacts on the environment. Examples of items containing mercury are:

  • Old thermostats
  • Light switches
  • Toys and jewelry
  • Fluorescent lights
  • CFL light bulbs

6. Certain car and truck parts

In order to recycle “vehicle hulk”, it’s critical to remove hazardous components prior to delivery to your local metal recycling center. Anything “problematic” could risk the entire load of metal and jeopardize the health and well-being of workers. It’s always better to err on the side of caution. Examples of auto parts that cannot be recycled are: 

  • batteries, headlamps, and fluorescent lamps
  • video display screens, switches, and sensors
  • drivetrain, flywheel, and driveshaft weights
  • modular electronics (like CD/DVD players)
  • electronic audio components and GPS units

7. Television and computer monitors

Currently, televisions and computer monitors are a huge part of waste electronics. And like so many other electronic devices, they all contain heavy metals that are toxic. The biggest concerns are metal lead, mercury, and polyvinyl chloride. Older electronics contain these chemicals which are all very harmful to human health. Television and computer components should not be taken to a Toronto recycling center. Instead, they should be disposed of properly at a hazardous waste facility in Toronto that is specifically for this kind of waste.

8. Radioactive metal/metals that contain uranium

Many household devices contain some level of radiation-emitting material. For the most part, the material is safely enclosed and poses no risk. However, there is a concern when it’s time to for its dispose. Items that contain uranium should be discarded with either e-waste or hazardous waste at a hazardous waste site. Examples of household metal items that can contain uranium due to radioactivity are:

  • Smoke detectors
  • Fluorescent lamps
  • Clocks
  • Silverware

Although these are some items that you cannot recycle, there are many metals that you can recycle. Some metal items you probably never realized you could sell for cash! For example, used electronics, car parts (ones not listed above), tools, piping, cables and many others can be sold for amounts that make scrap metal recycling worth your while.

Tal Metal is interested in all recyclable scrap metal. Most recycle metal items can be found around your household or garage. Tal Metal offers some the most competitive rates in Toronto and the GTA for your scrap metal. For more information on what type of items we accept at Tal Metal, visit our website or call us at 905-660-7081. What you think may be useless and worthless may be of great value to us!

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