Episode 4: Finding your value in metal recycling

In our latest episode of Unboxing Recycling with Charlotte, we have everything metal related covered. From what to do with those little tabs on tins and K-cup lids, to whether it’s better to buy metal packaging rather than plastic, Charlotte answers your most pressing questions. and offers useful tips.

Here’s a look at insightful chat:

Waste360: Metals are certainly a valuable resource. So, let’s dig into this topic!

Drizen: Yes, it’s such an exciting subject, and metals are a material that people hold dear and equate with endless recyclability – and it’s true. We can recycle it over and over again with little or no degradation. It’s really amazing to think, for example, that the steel we used in the last century is still largely in use.

Waste360: What are people right – and wrong – about recycling metals?

Drizen: When people think of metal and whether it can be recycled, a lot of people think, “It’s made of metal; it’s a valuable material and a recycling product” — and of course that’s true, but unfortunately anything made of metal can’t be put in that blue bin. Every once in a while here in DC I’ve seen a golf club put in a trash can, but unfortunately that size and shape is just something our recycling facilities can’t handle. Likewise, certain metal components like keys or coins – people are always curious to know if they can be recycled – and we know that they are unfortunately too small to be recycled in our selective collection system. But, some hardware stores may have dedicated programs to collect keys and recycle them, which is really wonderful.

Waste360: Can you share some tips to help people do a better job with their metal recycling efforts?

Drizen: One strategy revolves around how you pack the metal. Many people will crush aluminum foil into a small ball, compress it as far as they can go, then throw it in the blue bin. I appreciate the feeling that “I want to save space in my blue bin and recycle everything I can”, but something like a ball of aluminum foil is often too small to handle at installation. recycling. So what I recommend to people is to keep things at least baseball size. You can wrap the foil; you just don’t want to make it so small.

Also: the tabs on the aluminum cans…these are too small on their own, so you would want to put them back in the can before putting everything in the blue bin. Also, a box lid…if you can keep it attached when you open the main container, that’s helpful. I also get a lot of questions about the cleanliness of the metal containers when they go into the trash can. And, because the metal is heated to such a high temperature, we have a bit more leeway than when we recycle, say, plastic.

Waste360: What is the question you ask yourself most often about recycling metals?

Drizen: I think what I’m asked the most about is packaging that contains metal but isn’t primarily metal. For example, aluminum foil on coffee pods. We know that’s of course too small, and I share with people that – while these lids would be recyclable if they could be saved and rolled up into a big enough ball – on their own, it’s too small.