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Bringing unwanted objects to a scrap metal recycling center is a fine way to make some quick cash. However, it's important to learn which items these facilities will not pay cash for or will not accept for various reasons. Most of these items also should not be thrown away in the trash. Dispose of them properly instead.
Old computer monitors and word processing devices, as well as old TV sets, have cathode ray tubes that contain lead, a heavy metal. These bulky devices were pervasive before flat-screen technology became widespread. Lead is hazardous to health when particles enter the body through contamination of air, water, soil or other sources.
Recycling facilities actually can use much of the material in this equipment after the problem substance has been eliminated. Some scrap metal dealers accept these monitors as long as you pay a small fee. Municipal recycling centers offer this option as well. They use the fee for proper disposal of the hazardous waste, and the rest of the material goes on to a useful purpose. However, you'll have to double check with the center you plan to use to see if they'll accept items with lead or not.
Old-fashioned thermometers to measure the exterior temperature were commonly encased in metal or set into a metal plate. Scrap dealers won't pay for this type of thermometer because it contains mercury, a poisonous substance. They typically won't accept these devices at all.
Any type of mercury thermometer you have on hand -- including small glass ones for measuring body temperature -- can be properly disposed of through municipal or state collection programs.
Old-fashioned thermostats, including the dial versions and other non-digital thermostats, also contain mercury switches. When it's time to get a new thermostat, a heating and cooling company will remove and properly dispose of the old one. If you replace your own, you can find manufacturers and recycling corporations that offer collection programs.
Aerosol cans that are not empty also are considered hazardous waste material. First, the propellant gas is an explosive, and second, the liquid inside may be hazardous if it gets into groundwater or soil. If you want to recycle an old metal can of hairspray or spray paint, you'll need to empty it first. Some scrap yards will only take these cans if they are punctured, thus proving the cans are empty.
If you're trying to be friendly to the environment, emptying these cans means not just dispensing the contents onto the ground or into the air. If you never actually will use the substance inside the can, bring it to a municipal recycling center for proper disposal.
Scrap yard dealers generally will not accept paint cans that contain any liquid residue. Dry a small amount of water-based latex paint by taking the can's lid off and leaving the can outside in the sun. If the can contains a lot of paint, you'll need to pour it into a wider, shallower container for drying.
Most states allow dry latex paint to go in the trash, but call your local sanitation or public works department to make sure this is true in your state. You can bring the empty can to the recycling center.
A can containing oil-based paint should go to a municipal recycling and waste disposal center that accepts substances categorized as hazardous waste. If your state doesn't allow dry latex paint in the garbage, it also should be disposed of as hazardous material.
Tip: Another option would be to forget about recycling the can and learn whether any local charities, such as those that build houses for families, might want the paint. They don't need exact color matches, as they can mix numerous colors together until they have a suitable amount.
What You Can Do Now
Survey the scrap metal you have around your property and determine which you can bring to a dealer now and which needs some further attention. By disposing of your items properly, you'll earn some cash and be kind to the environment as well. For more information, contact your local scrap metal recycling center.