Metal recycling

Learn more about the metal recycling process and why some items can't go in your recycling cart.

Metal recycling process

All metal can be recycled, only certain items are able to be sorted at the recycling sorting facility. For a metal item to be recyclable in your cart it must be a
  • Food or beverage container
  • Foil ball larger than 3 inches in size
  • Decorative metal tin smaller than a 3 gallon pail

All other random metal items have the potential to rip or jam the equipment at the facility or injure collection or sorting staff. Metals are sorted from other materials using magnets and reverse magnets. 

  • Steel and tin are magnetic (ferrous metal)
    • They are pulled off the conveyor belt by a magnet. 
  • Aluminum is not magnetic (non-ferrous metal).
    • Aluminum is sorted by a reverse magnet called an eddy current. When the conveyor belt goes over the eddy current, the aluminum repels itself away from it into a separate area. 

After sorting, metals are baled and the bales are shipped off to their respective recyclers. At the next facility they are cleaned and melted to be made into new metal items. 

Watch a video of the recycling sorting process or sign up to tour the recycling facility

Metal items that can't go in your recycling cart

Random metal items

The only metal items that can go in your recycling cart are metal bottles, cans, and tin containers. The facility is only designed to sort out these items. Other random metal items must go to a separate facility to be recycled as scrap metal. 

Random Metal items

  • Pots and pans
  • Pipes and poles
  • Wire shelving
  • Hangers
  • Fans and toasters
  • Nails and screws

Ways to recycle scrap metal

  1. Search online to find a scrap metal recycler
  2. Set them out for Large item collection (keep in mind you need to have a box full of small items to set them out for pick-up)
  3. Bring to a Hennepin County Drop-off Facility
  4. Bring to the South Transfer Station with a voucher

Electronics and batteries

Batteries and electronics can damage equipment and harm workers collecting and sorting your recycling. Batteries are especially dangerous as they can start fires at recycling sorting facilities. They can all be recycled.


  • Set larger items like a TV or computer monitor out on your recycling day. The collection crew will add your address to a list. A separate truck will return the following business day to take them for recycling.
  • If you have a lot of smaller electronic items, keep them in a box until it's full, then set the full box out for pick-up.

Household batteries

Tape both terminals of the battery and bring to a Hennepin County Drop-off facility.

Alkaline batteries
  • Alkaline batteries are not hazardous and may be disposed of in your garbage at home. If you bring them to a drop-off location, they will be recycled.
Car batteries and other sealed lead-acid batteries
  • These are not collected by City crews. You can also call the store where you bought the battery, they might take it back for recycling. If not, bring lead-acid batteries to a Hennepin County drop-off facility for recycling.
Items with batteries that you cannot remove (musical greeting card, electronic toothbrush or a electronic cigarette)
  • Bring the whole item to a Hennepin County’s drop-off facility.

Propane tanks

Tanks that contain pressurized gases must be brought to a drop-off location. They are not accepted for recycling or in the garbage. The gasses they contain could cause them to explode or start a fire. They are very dangerous for workers collecting and sorting your recycling and garbage. Examples include:
  • Propane tanks
  • Helium tanks
  • Oxygen tanks
  • Carbon dioxide tanks
Find drop-off locations on our Disposal Guide.

Contact us

Solid Waste & Recycling





Eastside Maintenance Facility

2635 University Ave NE

Minneapolis, MN 55418

Office hours

8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Monday – Friday

This building is closed to the public.