Tom Szaky and Albe Zakes, the eco-entrepreneurs behind global recycling company TerraCycle have a pretty unique take on trash. Their new book Make Garbage Great explores the history of human waste and presents some creative ideas on how to make less of it in the future. Here's what they have to say about metal – a harmful pollutant that's too often shoved in with the trash.
So you recycle aluminum cans like there is no tomorrow. That's great! But there are countless other metal products that you probably didn't even realize can be recycled. Some, you can even make money recycling.
1. Everything steel
The market for steel is so huge that just about anything made out of it can be recycled. So before you throw away your old toaster, food cans, or even an unused pet cage, do a quick search in your area to find scrap recyclers near you.
2. Bottle caps
Metal bottle caps are typically made out of aluminum or steel, both of which are highly recyclable. The problem is the caps are so small that most people don't even think to save them or place them in the recycling bin. Even if they have a thin layer of plastic on the underside, they can still be recycled; the plastic will evaporate when the metal is heated.
Whether it's the lithium ion battery in your smartphone or the alkaline battery in your remote control, most batteries can be recycled. Most phone manufacturers and service providers offer lithium ion battery recycling, just like most car dealerships accept old car batteries. Many municipal programs accept everyday alkaline batteries, too.
Chances are that most of your pots, pans, baking sheets, skillets, and other cookware are made out of some type of metal. If your old cookware is still in decent condition, consider donating it to a secondhand store like Goodwill for reuse. If that isn't an option, there are many scrap metal recyclers that are willing to accept a wide variety of metal products. Be sure to check online before bringing them your cookware, as some only accept ferrous metals (like iron and steel), while others only accept nonferrous metals (like aluminum and copper).
5. Wire hangers
These can be made out of a small variety of metals, but it's often hard to identify which kind just by looking at them. Many curbside programs will actually accept wire hangers included in the recycling bin, but investigate yourself to see if this is the case. Otherwise, simply stop at the dry cleaners – most will accept any hangers at no cost.