Steel cans are used to package everything from pet food to vegetables to soup and are one of the oldest forms of food packaging, dating back to the 14th century. Steel cans are often lined with tin (and thus sometimes referred to as bi-metal cans) to prevent rust and food contamination, but this has no effect on the recyclability of the product.
Steel Can Recycling Preparation
- Most steel cans will have a paper label, which does not need to be removed. The paper will be removed during the recycling process, and since it’s a low quality of paper, it won’t be worth your time to remove and recycle it with other paper.
- You should rinse your cans to remove any leftover food. This will prevent your recycling bin from smelling and reduce the risk of animals attacking your recycling.
- Completely remove the lid (also made of steel) and insert into the can, then pinch the top so it closes. This will also prevent birds or cats from getting their heads stuck in the cans.
Find a drop-off location for steel cans near you using our Recycling Locator.
Why Recycle Steel Cans
- Steel has the highest recycling rate of any material, at more than 88 percent. While this is largely due to scrap metal such as cars, steel cans are able to be recycled into any steel product.
- Steels cans may be recycled infinitely with no loss of quality. Unlike glass, paper or plastic, metal is in limited supply, putting extra importance on recycling.
- Two-thirds of all new steel manufactured comes from recycled steel, meaning one-third must still come from virgin material.
Frequent Tin or Steel Can Recycling Questions
- How to Recycle a Metal Water Bottle: If you switched to a metal bottle and are looking to recycle it, we’ve got you covered
- Steel These Ideas: 15 Repurpose Projects Using Food Cans: Why recycle your steel cans at all when there are so many ways to reuse them around the house?
- The Basics of Recycling Scrap Metal for Money: Steel cans are one of many products that you can recycle for money, and this guide covers how to get started