What is it?
Sometimes, recycling is complicated. Consider scrap metal: it crosses the boundaries of so many recycling categories and programs that there is no one place to take it all. Even scrap metal dealers have to refuse certain items. In general, scrap metal can be separated into three categories: household, construction, and automotive.
Drink Cans - All beverage containers are part of the SARCAN deposit recycling system. This includes aluminum pop cans, juice tins (e.g. tomato juice tins), and asceptic containers (juice boxes) which contain metal foil.
Tin Cans – These cans are recyclable at scrap metal yards, in curbside recycling programs, and community drop-off bins.
Electronics – Electronic products often have steel cases and also contain other metals like silver, gold, lead, and copper. The Electronic Products Recycling Association (EPRA-SK) manages the electronics recycling program and collects electronics throughout the province via SARCAN recycling depots and other locations. Check out our electronics resource page to learn more about recycling electronics.
Large Appliances - Stoves, fridges, washers, and dryers, etc., are often referred to as ‘white goods' and can usually be taken to designated areas at landfills and transfer stations, or directly to a scrap metal dealer. Freon is an issue for fridges, freezers, and air conditioners. Certain drop-off locations want the freon removed before they will accept the appliance. This requires the services of a certified refrigeration specialist. Check out our large appliance resource page to learn more.
Small Appliances – These items don’t contain many precious metals like other electronics, and are not made of a large quantity of metal like the larger appliances. The most comprehensive recycling program for small appliances is through London Drugs, who takes back any small appliances that they sell, even if you didn't buy it there. There are London Drugs locations in Saskatoon and Regina. Microwaves are part of the EPRA-SK program and can be returned to any SARCAN depot.
Batteries - Many places that sell electronics and batteries also take them back. They collect them on behalf of the Call2Recycle program which is a voluntary program responsible for managing cell phone and battery recycling.
Propane tanks - all propane tanks have an expiry date after which most service stations will refuse to refill them. Often if they sell new propane tanks, they will also take back the expired ones. If not, you can generally take them to a scrap metal dealer; just make sure they are empty of fuel and the valve has been removed.
Miscellaneous – Many other household items can be made of metal – shelf brackets, nails, garbage cans, tools, etc. Scrap metal dealers are generally happy to receive these products. Check out our Waste Reduction Hub for locations near you.
Usable metal construction or renovation materials can be donated to Habitat for Humanity Re-Stores, or you can try to sell them yourself. Most other metals leftover from construction, renovation, or demolition can be dealt with by a scrap metal dealer. Depending on the value of metal collected, it may cost you nothing, or even earn you a small profit.
Oil Filters - Most engine oil filters are made with a metal shell. There are retailers across the province that accept oil filters, containers, and used oil for recycling. The products they collect are picked up and sent to a recycler. The filters are crushed and the used oil is extracted before they are recycled. The Saskatchewan Association for Resource Recovery Corp is a non-profit organization that manages the recycling of used oil and antifreeze materials.
Whole vehicles - Scrap metal dealers and auto wreckers still find plenty of value in recycling vehicles. Post your unwanted vehicle on a site like Kijiji to catch the eye of people looking to pick up old vehicles. Car Heaven and the Kidney Car Program are services that tow your old vehicle and give you a tax receipt, while the proceeds of your vehicle go to charity.
What happens after?
EVRAZ has a steel smelter in Regina that makes steel pipes from scrap metal. They are the main buyer of steel in the province. They also handle tin (steel) food cans, empty paint cans, and oil filters.
The aluminum pop cans collected through SARCAN are recycled at a smelter in Berea, Kentucky. Each year they send nearly 6 million pounds of aluminum to be made into new cans.
EPRA uses a variety of recyclers for the metal materials in the electronics they collect. All the materials are processed in Canada to the point where they are commodities (i.e., none of it is shipped over-seas or handled unsafely).
All the materials collected by London Drugs are sent for recycling in BC, near to where London Drugs is based. The plant there disassembles the appliances and sends the pieces to be recycled.
Gaps in scrap metal recycling
A good recycling solution has yet to present itself for a number of metal-containing items. These include mattresses (metal coil springs), furniture (metal springs, frames etc.), the steel belting from recycled tires and wire fencing. Check out our Waste Reduction Hub to find metal recycling locations near to you.