Dispose of metal

Last updated: 12 March 2021

Why recycle metal?

Making new products from recycled steel cans helps save up to 75% of the energy and 40% of the water needed to make steel from raw materials. Air pollution is also reduced by almost 90%. Recycling just six aluminium cans saves enough energy to offset the carbon emissions from a 10km journey in an average-size car, a 17km bus ride or 25km train trip.

Recycle your household metal to:

  • save energy
  • reduce landfill
  • reduce CO2 emissions
  • conserve raw materials.

Reduce your household metal waste

Reduce, reuse, recycle. Reduce the amount of metal you need to recycle.

Metal you can put in your kerbside recycling bin

  • aerosol spray cans
  • aluminum baking trays
  • beer bottle lids (collect them in a tin and squeeze the lid closed)
  • cake trays (foil)
  • cans (tin, steel, aluminium)
  • cleaning product bottles
  • containers
  • cooking oil tins (up to 5 litres)
  • damaged or broken metal cutlery
  • foil (clean and rolled/scrunched)
  • metal lids
  • washing detergent bottles

Don't forget to:

  • Empty and lightly clean metal items
  • Keep recycling out of plastic bags
  • Recycle your aerosol cans!

Metal you can't put in your kerbside recycling bin

Recycling scrap metal

Scrap metals include a number of materials such as aluminium, brass, copper, stainless steel, cast iron, lead, zinc and nickel. Recycling scrap metal contributes to a significant saving in greenhouse gas emissions. Making items from recycled aluminium uses just 5% of the energy as making the same item from raw materials.

Contact your council to find out where you can recycle scrap metal near you.

What happens to recycled metal?

Aluminium cans

Aluminium is almost endlessly recyclable, and making new cans from used aluminium requires only 5% of the energy needed to make a new can from scratch. During recycling the cans are crushed, then melted in a furnace. The liquid aluminium is then placed in moulds to create new aluminium products. In 2005, Australians recycled over two billion aluminium cans.

Steel and scrap metal

Every tonne of steel recycled saves 1131kg of iron ore, 633kg of coal and 54kg of limestone. Scrap metal is crushed in compactors, shredded into pieces, and then separated into ferrous and non-ferrous metals using magnetic drums. After non-metallic items such as paint or plastic are removed using very hot air, the scrap metal is melted and further purified before being poured into different moulds to create new metal products.

Over 50% of the world's steel production uses recycled scrap metal, making it one of the world's most recycled materials.

Pretty please recycle your aerosols

More than 90% of Australians live in councils that collect aerosols for recycling, yet over half of Australians think that aerosols cannot be recycled through their kerbside recycling service. Aerosols are made from either steel or aluminium, which are infinitely recyclable in Australia. If the aerosol can isn't empty, however, it should be disposed of through our Detox your Home program.