Metals are easier to recycle than many other substances. They can usually be melted down, and the quality of the end product is very high. This contrasts sharply with plastics, which always degrade to a substantailly lower-valued product when recycled.
Recycling metal is much more energy-efficient than mining it from scratch, so "mining" it from a house that's going to landfill is the right thing to do.
I've spent the past two workdays ripping metallic things out of the house that the Mill Creek NetZero Home will replace. It's dirty work that pays very little.
I had to tear out walls and such, which makes a big mess. Something like this:
The view from the top of the stairs after tearing out a wall and the cast iron drain pipe that was in it.
Here's a list of things that can be recycled at a scrap metal dealer:
- electrical wiring (they melt off the insulating plastic)
- cast iron drain pipes (especially dangerous when falling from the attic - trust me)
- water piping (especially copper)
- natural gas lines (these suckers are made of very thick steel)
- furnaces (mine is still sitting in the cellar - weighing at least 200 pounds, I'm not so sure how I'm going to get it out)
- metal appliances, depending on the scrap dealer
- furnace ducting
I expect to get severely underpaid for the dirty, exhausting work that I've done, but that's okay. It was actually really fun, and I feel great about doing the green thing.
I'll be delivering my load of scrap metal to General Recycling Industries Ltd. right here in town. They have a depot about 60 blocks east of me.
I'll post part 2 of my scrap metal adventure after I make my delivery.