If you’re doing your own renovations or just working on some projects around the house, you’ll find that scrap materials can quickly build up. While it might seem like the simplest thing is to just throw your scraps away, some scraps can’t fit in the garbage, some shouldn’t go in the garbage for safety reasons, and some scraps can be reused for something else. Here are some ways you can recycle your scraps safely, depending on the type of material it is.
Metal scraps can sometimes go in your municipal recycling if you have one. Check your local rules for what types of material are accepted. For metal scraps that can’t go to your curbside service, you can start a scrap bucket. Drop stripped screws, unused parts, cuttings of steel, copper, and other bare metals into a bucket; when it’s full, drop it off at a local scrap yard. If your bucket is full enough, you might even get some money for it. If you have usable parts that someone else might want or need, you can sometimes donate these to a local reuse centre that will sort and resell your nuts, bolts, and unused screws at a discount to other enterprising DIYers. When I was teaching shop, I often used castoff parts to teach students how to use screw guns and other tools because the size of the part doesn’t matter as much as the technique in that situation. If you have a large amount of metal from redoing HVAC or another big job, you can look into professional disposal services in your area.
Wood scraps can pile up in your home shop quickly, and if you don’t plan to reuse them for something else, they can take up a lot of space. To recycle them, you can start by offering larger and more valuable scraps on local reselling groups through social media. You might even make a little pocket change this way and you’ll know that you’re fueling your local DIY community. If you would rather have your scraps gone ASAP, you can donate usable scrap to reuse centres. For larger amounts of scrap, some of these facilities will even offer pickup so you don’t have to make a trip. For scraps that aren’t particularly useful, you can also recycle them as mulch. Some municipalities have community mulching facilities, but if not, you can likely find a private company happy to take your distressed wood scraps for a small fee. Smaller wood scraps that aren’t treated can be added to compost and will eventually break down just like any other organic material would.
If you’re doing an upholstery project or working on some other home decor items, you might end up with extra fabric you don’t need. Recycling fabric scraps is as easy as donating old clothing in most cases. You can drop them off at most charities that take clothing donations and anything that isn’t sold will be passed on to a textile recycling plant. You can also offer fabric scraps on local free groups—some even have special pages just for crafting—and you’ll often get to meet a fellow crafter in the process.
Recycling tile can be tricky, but there are a few retailers that run tile take-back programs where you can have your extra scrap tiles recycled. For other options, some reuse centres will take unused tiles to resell to other DIY home renovators, and you can always offer it on local reselling groups to see if you can find any takers. You can also reach out to local crafting and community programs to see if anyone would like extra material for their projects. Since tile often can’t be thrown away in the regular trash due to its weight, you might need to pay to have it taken away if you can’t find a way to recycle or reuse it.
You might have caught on by now that almost any extra material can be recycled or reused by someone if given the chance. If you have leftover or scrap materials, you can often find a home for them outside of a landfill and at no cost to you. Finding the local materials groups near you, establishing a relationship with local community groups, and making a social media post to offer your scraps can help you recycle your scraps for free or cheap.
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