Is scrap metal classed as hazardous waste?


We often get asked if scrap metal is classed as hazardous waste?

Luckily, almost all metals can be recycled at the Glazewing Weighbridge. So, you won’t have a problem scrapping most of the items you have around the house that are made out of metal or contain metal elements. Yet, among various recyclable metals, there are some that will not be accepted at a scrap yard or those that are simply too difficult or too dangerous to recycle. On it's own, scrap metal is not classed as hazardous waste. However, before taking your scrap to the recycling yard you should ensure you examine it, to see if it is contaminated or hazardous.

Contaminants can include radioactive materials, plastic, rubber, and oil. 

Hazardous waste includes metal in waste oil filters, spent battery casings, metal containers with hazardous contents, or mercury in fluorescent tubes.

  • Radioactive metals: Of course, the chances are really small that you’ll ever even end up anywhere near Uranium or Plutonium, but nonetheless, such metals are not recyclable.
  • Mercury: Radioactive metals are not the only ones that pose a threat to your health, the same can be said about materials that are simply too toxic to be recycled like Mercury.
  • Lead: Even though lead is quite commonly used in electronic devices (lead-acid batteries, computer and TV screens, and so on) it is extremely dangerous and can cause several very serious health problems. Scrap yards will accept devices that contain lead and remove all the harmful elements before recycling other materials.
Radiation In Scrap

But apart from metals that cannot be recycled, there are also certain items that you won’t be able to scrap even though they are made of recyclable materials.

  • Contaminated cans: The issue here is not with typical aluminum food cans, those can be recycled without any issues, but with paint and motor oil cans. Such products can contain harmful toxins, and even cleaning the cans doesn’t give you a guarantee that all the chemicals are removed. Many recycling facilities may accept such cans, but you should always make sure beforehand.
  • Household equipment: In this category, you can find all the things that contain Mercury and lead, but also gas tanks, batteries, and items like CDs cannot be scrapped as well. Even if the pans in your kitchen are made of metal, you won’t be able to recycle them with the rest of your scrap metal collection if they have any protective layer on them.

Of course, just because you cannot scrap certain metal items, it doesn’t mean you should just throw them into a regular bin with the rest of your household waste. You can take such things to the nearest Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) in order to dispose of them in a responsible and environmentally-friendly manner.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about the metal items you are looking to scrap and we'll be happy to help you.

Hazardous waste recycling poster