How to Recycle Steel

An Overview On Recycling Steel

You can find steel in almost every room of your home - from the bedroom to the garage to the kitchen to the backyard. Here are some common products made from steel - both recycled and virgin materials alike:

  • Appliances including washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators
  • Food containers like steel cans, juice containers, and soda cans
  • Automotive parts such as engine blocks and frames
  • Building materials including roofing, bridges, fire hydrants, guard rails, utility poles, and home construction
  • Furniture such as filing cabinets, desks, bed frames, and tables
  • Other packaging for things like pet food, cleaning products, paint, shoe polish, sauces, coffee, and cookies

And of course, regardless of the product, your steel should be recyclable, although you should check with your local recycling authority to find out what types of steel products they do and don’t take. Recycled steel is made into things like bolts and nuts, steel cans, and clothes hangers.

More than 68% of all steel produced in the US is recycled.[1] And that’s great news for the environment since recycling a single tone of steel has many eco benefits, including reducing energy consumption by 642 kWh, oil consumption by 1.8 barrels, and cutting landfill space use by 4 cubic yards.[2] In fact, the energy saved by recycling steel every year equals enough electricity to power 18 million homes annually.[3] In the UK, the 2.5 billion steel cans recycled annually is equal to the weight of 18,000 double decker buses![4]

Tips for easy steel recycling

Recycling steel will take on different forms depending on what it is that you’re trying to get rid of. Here are some steel recycling tips for basic products you’ll likely be looking to dispose of properly:

  • Appliances: If you’re buying a new appliance, be sure to ask whether the retailer has an appliance recycling program, and if so, have the delivery company remove your old appliance and take it to the recycling center.
  • Household items: We’ve got loads of tips on recycling everything from clothes hangers to aerosol cans to food tins to help you find the best way to recycle your steel products used every day. Ecolife also has articles on recycling bicycles, eye glasses, mattresses, auto parts and other products that contain steel. Check out our recycling section for more information. 
  • Building materials: If you’re looking to recycle steel used in your home construction, check out our recycling database to find resources for recycling scrap steel.



1  Steel Recycling. (n.d.). Retrieved August 2, 2010, from Ohio Department of Natural Resources:

2 Recycling Trivia. (n.d.). Retrieved July 28, 2010, from Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality:

3 Still not convinced to recycle more…?(n.d.). Retrieved July 6, 2010, from University of Maryland - Residential Facilities:

4  How you CAN recycle. (n.d.). Retrieved August 2, 2010, from Steel Can Recycling Information Bureau:

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