Can You Recycle Old Nails and Screws? (6 Helpful Tips)

Recycle Old Nails and Screws

Screws and nails are usually made of stainless steel, iron, aluminum, copper, or bronze and are therefore a very valuable raw material.

However, because they’re so small, hardly any handyman or woodworker thinks about recycling them. But is disposing of them always the most sensible solution? Can you recycle old nails and screws?

The short answer is YES. You can recycle old nails and screws by taking them to the scrapyard in exchange for cash. However, you’ll need to ensure they are up to a pound, which should be roughly around 80 to 100 nails and/or screws, depending on their size. 

Are old screws and nails recyclable?

In times of increasing environmental pollution and impending scarcity of resources, it is important to responsibly use the available raw materials. Screws are usually made of metal and are therefore a valuable resource.

Smaller quantities of screws and nails – about three to a dozen bent, old, and rusty screws – can be disposed of in the household waste bin. Sometimes, the scrap metal is filtered out by magnets before incineration.  

However, large quantities of nails and screws should be taken to a recycling center for recycling. Scrap dealers are also interested in larger quantities and often pay a fee.

Nails are made of metal and are therefore an essential raw material. They’re transferred to a local recycling center where the scrap metal is melted down and cast into a new shape.

The correct disposal and recycling of nails and screws are therefore imperative and in the interest of society.

What can I do with old nails and screws?

There are a couple of things you can do with old nails and screws, whether they’re rusty, bent, damaged, or still in good condition.

Take them to the metal scrapyard

If you have a lot of nails and they weigh at least a pound, the best option is to trade them for cash at the metal scrap yard. The scrapyard will then send them up for industrial recycling. 

Give them out

Perhaps you’re in the process of moving your properties and found out a stash of nails or screws. Why not give them out to your good neighbor than dispose of them?

Reuse them

If the screws are unbent, still in good condition, but not up to a sellable quantity, knowing that your DIY hands will get itchy someday, you can keep the nails or screws for a day when they can become useful.

Your cupboard or cabinet may need repair, and you’d be thankful you had them saved up!

Are nails and screws considered scrap/recyclable metal?

Scrap/recyclable metals are iron, copper, aluminum, steel, gold, silver, platinum, brass, and the so-called “rare earth,” or chemical elements used in the most modern technologies, including lutetium and cerium.

So, the first question you need to answer is what are nails and screws made of? Are they made of any of these recyclable materials?

Well, nails are often made from steel, iron, aluminum, stainless steel, copper, or bronze. 

Any metal can be recycled, which can produce excellent results environmentally. This isn’t based on the reuse of the material itself but also on energy recovery.

Aluminum is the easiest to recycle material for recycling companies. According to the EPA, its recycling requires only 5% of the energy needed to produce the raw material it is extracted from.

It is the most infinitely recyclable material, and about 75% of all aluminum produced in history is still in use today.

Producing a pure metal from the mineral is a cycle that, from the point of energy view, it is wasteful. If we always recycle the metals used, we can limit CO2 emissions and save considerably on the mining and production processes.

Are old nuts and bolts worth anything?

Before beginning the process of recycling the metal pieces, isn’t it worth asking yourself what the value of the items could be?

In any case, know that even if the nails, screws, nuts, and bolts aren’t paid for, your effort isn’t wasted! Mother earth will always thank you, and we can all have a liveable and sustainable world.

But what are these items worth? Well, old nuts and bolts are worth a few cents at the least. If the metals are clean brass and have no nonferrous metals and contaminants, they can fetch you top dollars. 

At the scrapyard, a 5-gallon bucket of copper is worth around $10. I understand that you can’t make thousands of dollars recycling nail metals, but the effort will be worth it for the sake of the planet(and your conscience).

Imagine if millions of homeowners and handymen on the planet think like you do.

How to dispose of or recycle nails, screws, nuts, or bolts?

For the appropriate recycling of the metals that we no longer use, it could be useful to follow this process for constant respect for the planet.

Always contact the recycling and collection facilities in the area to check if the disposal is paid for; know what types of materials are accepted; and find out other general information.

In any case, the process involves taking the metals to the scrapyard, from where they’re taken to the recycling factory, sorted, shredded, melted, reformed, and solidified. You can make between $5 to $10 on a bucket of metal scraps. 

How about the smaller pieces?

Small amounts of old screws can be disposed of in the simplest way possible – I’m talking about simply disposing of them in the recyclable gray waste bin is the right place.

At the landfill, before the incineration process, all recyclable metal parts are sorted out with the help of large magnets and fed into the recycling process.

Therefore, you can throw old screws in the household waste with a clear conscience!

The metal is not lost in the recyclable waste bin but is further processed using modern sorting mechanisms. However, this method is only recommended if you have small metal pieces.

Final Words

Nails, screws, nuts, and bolts are recyclable, especially if you have them in a large quantity – the more, the merrier!

In no case should you consider throwing away your old nails, screws, and nuts? First, that’s like throwing money away. Moreover, it will take many years for them to completely rust away in the landfill.

However, recycling them can help keep a lot of minerals in the ground. Some 100 pieces of metal saved by me and 100 by you could help the planet by saving up on energy use and emissions needed to extract and produce new metals.


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