How to Recycle Aluminum

If you’re looking for an easy way to help the environment at home, recycling your aluminum is a great way to start. Everything from soda cans, food containers, car parts, and appliances are made from aluminum and can be reused again and again to make new materials. While it might seem like a straightforward process, there are few things to keep in mind when you want to recycle aluminum.


[Edit]Is all aluminum recyclable?

  1. Yes, all aluminum can be reused to make new products. Extracting new aluminum from the ground creates pollution and burns a lot of energy, but reusing recycled aluminum can prevent it. Since aluminum doesn’t corrode either, you can recycle it multiple times without losing any of the material.[1]
    Recycle Aluminum Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    • Aluminum is the most valuable material that you can recycle and 75% of aluminum made in the United States is still being used today.

[Edit]Can I put aluminum in the recycle bin?

  1. Contact your local recycling facility to find any restrictions in your area. Even though all aluminum is recyclable, that doesn’t mean your local collection facility can accept everything for curbside pickup. Find the facility’s number and call them to ask if you can put your aluminum pieces in the bin for collection. Let them know about specific appliance pieces or other forms of aluminum you’re trying to recycle so you know for sure.[2]
    Recycle Aluminum Step 2 Version 2.jpg
    • You can find recycling centers near you here:
    • The types of aluminum your facility accepts depends on your city and county since some areas may not have access to sorting machines or aluminum markets. You’re usually safe recycling cans and aluminum food containers.

[Edit]Where can I take aluminum to get recycled?

  1. You can bring aluminum directly to a recycling facility for quick disposal. If you don’t want to wait for curbside collection, look up the nearest collection center that accepts drop-offs. Pack your aluminum recyclables into your vehicle and bring them to the collection center so they can immediately get sorted and processed.[3]
    Recycle Aluminum Step 3 Version 2.jpg
    • Some recycling facilities will collect pieces of aluminum you aren’t allowed to put into curbside pickup. If you have a piece of aluminum that you aren’t sure about, call ahead to see if they accept it.
  2. Take any aluminum that wasn’t accepted to a scrap metal recycler. Since scrap metal can damage recycling equipment, you may need to find a scrap metal recycler for aluminum pipes, appliances, car parts, or radiators. Search for local places online and call them to ask about what types of aluminum they collect. They should be able to take it off your hands to reuse or resell the aluminum to someone else.[4]
    • Ask your local recycling facility if they have contact information for scrap metal recyclers in your area.

[Edit]How do I prepare aluminum for recycling?

  1. Rinse off any food residue. If you’re recycling an old aluminum container, soda can, or pie plate, run it underneath some water to clean it off. Scrub off any stuck-on bits of food as best as you can. It doesn’t have to be perfectly clean, but try to remove as much as possible before you toss it in with your recyclables.[5]
    Recycle Aluminum Step 5 Version 2.jpg
    • Food residue can contaminate recycling centers and make it more difficult to reuse the material.
    • Cleaning off your aluminum also helps prevent bugs and odors.

[Edit]Should I crush aluminum cans before recycling?

  1. Leave cans intact if you’re recycling them with other materials. Since many locations mix all recyclables together, crushed cans might not get picked up by separators or sorting machines. When you recycle your cans, keep them in their original shape so it’s easier for the facility to process them.[6]
    Recycle Aluminum Step 6 Version 2.jpg
    • Check with your local recycling facility to see if they have a preference. Some areas may be strict about leaving cans intact but others might accept crushed cans as well.
  2. Crush your cans if you’re separating them from other recyclables. Since you’re already sorting the cans out from your other recyclables, it doesn’t matter if you crush them or leave them intact. If you want to save space in your home and collect as many cans as possible, then feel free to crush them.[7]
    • Don’t put the crushed cans out with your regular recycling collection since they might get mistakenly mixed with your other recyclables. Instead, take them directly to a recycling facility so they don’t get missorted.

[Edit]Can I put aluminum foil in my recycling bin?

  1. You can usually recycle aluminum foil as long as you crumple it. Always check with your local recycling facility to confirm you can put it in the bin with your other recyclables. If they do allow it, crumple the piece of aluminum into a loose ball so it doesn’t accidentally get sorted with paper and cardboard at the recycling facility.[8]
    Recycle Aluminum Step 8.jpg
    • Make sure to clean off any food waste that’s on the aluminum foil so you don’t contaminate other recyclables.[9]

[Edit]How much do scrap yards pay for aluminum?

  1. Aluminum can earn you around $0.30–0.90 USD per . Search online for scrap yards or recyclers in your area that offer payment for aluminum. Bring all of the aluminum you want to get rid of to the scrap yard and let them weigh it on a scale. When they find out how much aluminum you have, they’ll pay you a set rate per pound.[10]
    Recycle Aluminum Step 9.jpg
    • The amount you get paid varies between scrap yards. Contact a few places to find out their rates so you can find the one that will give you the most money.
  2. Some recycling centers pay $0.05 USD for every aluminum can. Look on your state’s or city’s website to see if they offer a cash refund value on aluminum cans. If your area participates in the program, keep your aluminum cans separate from your other recyclables and bring them to the facility. When you want to cash in, bring your cans to a facility that accepts drop-offs.[11]
    • Look for a refund value listed on the can’s label to see how much each can is worth. Check for the phrase “CRV” or “Redemption Value” somewhere on the can.


  • Whenever you’re in doubt, reach out to your local recycling facility to see if you can bring aluminum there.


  • Avoid throwing aluminum away if there’s still food residue on it since it could contaminate the recyclables.[12]

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