I am an avid recycler, but every now and then I come across metal scraps around the house and I’m unsure what to do with them. I no longer have a use for them and saving the items just does not seem to make sense with the limited space I have. I am then left with two options: I can either toss it in the trash or put it in the recycling bin. Being the eco-friendly consumer that I am, I talk myself into placing the item in the recycling bin, but after a bit of research, I have come to realize this may not always be the best action to take. scrap-metal.jpgWe all know metals contain property characteristics like strength, durability, malleability and conductivity, which serve as a wide range of products like tools, building structures, jewelry, electronics and so much more. Think about it: So many items we use on a daily basis are made of metal. Like any other nonrenewable resource, metal deposits will run out at the current exploited rate, therefore recycling these items is high on the list of importance. From an extra screw to a worn-out cooking pot, not any given metal can be simply tossed in the recycling bin. While tossing the material curbside seems like such a simple solution, many municipal sorting facilities cannot accommodate these scrap items. In fact, throwing these unacceptable items can actually be catastrophic down the line at the recycling facility. Breaking down and melting irregular metals can contaminate the bunch of other acceptable metals — typically aluminum or steel consumer packaging — and ruin the whole batch. Therefore, this batch would no longer be able to be recycled and would be unusable in the future. Sometimes we just have a disconnect from the consumer and the recyclers. If I can’t throw some old screws I found in the recycling bin, where else can I recycle these items? Fortunately, there are other options out there, but they just require a bit more effort than the convenience of a curbside program. If you happen to live in an urban environment or a suburb of a large city, a metal recycling facility is almost certainly within reasonable driving distance from your residence. In more rural cases, there may not be a nearby option for you to recycle your unwanted metals. We can go ahead and hope that our curbside programs will expand their acceptable items list, but until then, do be cautious of what metal materials you may be tossing in the recycling bin. This is one case where “when in doubt, leave it out” may be best. Set those metals aside until you can properly dispose of them in the future.