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Skip the Skips! Proper Disposal of Scrap Metal and White Goods

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Skip the Skips! Proper Disposal of Scrap Metal and White Goods


I want to talk about the importance of properly disposing of scrap metal and white goods. Simply dumping these items or leaving them on the curb can cause problems for your community and the environment. There are better options available that are easy and often free. In this article, I’ll go over why proper disposal matters, where you can take different types of scrap for recycling or safe disposal, and what to watch out for along the way. With a bit of planning and effort, we can keep dangerous materials out of landfills and our shared spaces.

Why Proper Disposal Matters

There are a few key reasons why it’s worth your time to dispose of scrap and white goods responsibly:

Safety Hazards

Many items like appliances and scrap metal contain materials that can be hazardous if handled improperly. Refrigerators, washers, dryers and ovens all rely on chemicals like freon or CFCs to function. If these leak out, they can cause air and water pollution. Older appliances may also contain mercury or asbestos. Gasoline cans, propane tanks and many car parts contain flammable liquids or gases. If sent to a landfill, those chemicals could leach out over time.

Environmental Damage

Landfills are lined to help contain leaking chemicals and contaminants. However, no liner is perfect, and harmful substances do escape over time. This can pollute surrounding soil and groundwater. Recycling scrap metal also reduces the need for new metal production, which is energy intensive and resource depleting. Keeping reusable materials out of landfills lessens their environmental impact.

Community Health

Illegal dumping attracts more trash, which can lower property values and make neighborhoods appear neglected. Discarded appliances and scrap metal are also safety issues for kids who may be tempted to play on them. Proper disposal helps keep public and private spaces clean and hazard-free for the health of the whole community.

It’s Required by Law

In most areas, there are laws against illegal dumping. You can face fines or other penalties for leaving hazardous items on the curb or dumping them somewhere other than an approved landfill or recycling center. Always check your local regulations before disposing of appliances, fuel containers or car parts. Following the rules helps keep everyone safe.

Where to Take Different Items

To make disposing of scrap and white goods as easy as possible, here are some tips on responsibly getting rid of common items:

Appliances (Refrigerators, Washers, Dryers, Ovens, etc)

Many municipalities offer special pickup days for bulk items like appliances, often for free. Check your local waste management website for scheduled dates or arrangements you’ll need to make. Utilities like gas and electric companies may also offer free pickup when you’re replacing an appliance. Some removal services will also dispose of an old appliance for an additional fee when delivering a new one.

For a small fee, many metal recycling centers accept appliances. Call ahead to ask about drop-off policies and charges. Freon and other chemicals will need to be removed by the center before recycling the metal.

Scrap Metal (Mowers, Tools, Bikes, Shelves, etc)

Scrap metal is one of the easiest materials to recycle. Many towns have free drop-off centers for all types of household scrap metal, like broken tools and shelves. You can take metal to a metal recycling center or scrapyard for cash. Auto salvage yards will take junk vehicles, often for free. Even small amounts of metal can go in your curbside recycling bin in many areas.

White Goods (Hot Water Heaters, Washers, Dryers)

Large home appliances are often called white goods, since many were traditionally white enamel. Check for free pickup days or contact metal recycling centers to dispose of these, just like other appliances. Some municipalities also collect white goods curbside with advance arrangement. Fees are usually $10-$30 per item.

Gasoline Cans, Propane Tanks (Empty and Full)

Empty gasoline cans can go in the regular trash in most areas, while empty propane tanks can go to a metal recycler. Some municipal hazardous waste days accept gasoline and propane for safe disposal for a small fee. You can also contact landfills directly to ask about hazardous material drop-off arrangements. Never put flammable or pressurized containers in your curbside trash bins.

Car Parts (Batteries, Fluids, Catalytic Converters)

Junk car removal services and auto recyclers will take complete vehicles. For individual parts, metal recyclers will take catalytic converters, mufflers and metal components. Auto part stores recycle lead-acid batteries. For liquids like antifreeze, brake fluid or waste oil, many municipalities hold household hazardous waste drop off days. Events are often free or low cost ways to safely dispose of vehicle chemicals.

What to Avoid

I want to emphasize a few problem areas to avoid when getting rid of scrap metal:

  • Never dump items on private or public land. It’s always illegal and dangerous. Use proper disposal methods instead.

  • Don’t put anything with chemical hazards in the trash. This includes appliances, gasoline, oils or propane tanks. Take these items to special recycling or hazardous waste collections.

  • Avoid unlicensed or ‘mobile’ scrappers. Sadly, some scrap collectors simply dump items illegally to avoid proper disposal costs. Stick to known, licensed metal recycling centers in your area.

  • Don’t attempt do-it-yourself Freon removal. Appliances like fridges require professional removal of chemicals by certified technicians before recycling. Attempting this yourself risks escapes of dangerous gases.

Proper disposal does take a small extra effort, but it pays off by keeping your neighborhood, the environment and resources protected. We all have a role to play in managing waste safely and sustainably. Follow these tips and we can keep dangerous scrap out of landfills and our communities. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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