Recycling Steel At Home

You can recycle steel cans by depositing them in a steel can bank, or by putting them out with your other recyclable rubbish for kerbside collection.

To find out which is the best way to recycle steel in your area, ask your teacher or your parents, or contact your local authority’s recycling officer.

How To Recycle Steel Cans

Before you put your steel cans out to be recycled:

  1. Wash them – Be careful not to cut yourself on any sharp edges when washing
  2. Put the lids inside them.
  3. Put any jam jar lids or bottle tops inside the cans.
  4. Squash the end of each can flat, so that it takes up less space.

Where to Recycle Steel Cans

Recycling steel at home is easy. To check if a can is made from steel just hold a magnet up to it โ€“ if it sticks, it’s steel! As well as cans, you can recycle bottle tops and jam jar lids in one of the two following ways:

Can Banks

  • Can banks are large containers in which you can deposit all your old steel cans for recycling. Once full, the can banks are emptied into local depots and then taken away by lorry to be sorted and then recycled.
  • Can banks are in public places, usually in central areas of towns and cities. They are also placed in some supermarket carparks, and at mini recycling centres and civic amenity sites.
  • Many can banks across the UK are part of the Save-a-Can scheme. Save-a-Can is a nationwide can collection scheme which accepts all types of food, drinks, pet food and aerosol cans.
  • There are over 2000 of the blue and white Save-a-Can banks across the UK, as well as some smaller mobile banks.

Kerbside Collection

In some areas, local councils provide special boxes or sacks to collect recyclable materials. This is known as kerbside collection, as the materials are collected straight from your doorstep, like normal rubbish.

If your area has a kerbside collection scheme, you simply place all your steel cans in the special container and then put it out to be collected and taken to the recycling plant.

To find out which type of steel can recycling scheme operates in your area, phone the Steel Can Recycling Information Bureau (SCRIB) or contact your local authority’s recycling officer.


  • Wash cans out before you recycle them
  • Put can lids, bottle tops and jam jar lids inside cans.
  • Squash cans as flat as possible before you put them in a can bank to save space.
  • Don’t squash aerosol cans โ€“ empty them, remove the plastic cap and then put them in as they are.

How is Steel Recycled?

  1. Steel objects for recycling are collected from can banks, or from kerbside recycling boxes. They are sorted and then returned to the steelmaking plant.
  2. The steel is melted down, together with other ingredients called iron ore and limestone.
  3. The liquid metal is poured into a mould and then left to cool down. When it’s hard enough, a machine chops it into big blocks. These are taken away to be made into new steel products.

Projects For Kids at Home

  • Find as many things as you can in your house that are made from steel. Use a magnet โ€“ if the magnet sticks to the object then it is made of steel.
  • Imagine life without steel! Write a story about a day in a world without steel.
  • Count how many steel cans your family uses in a week. How many of these get recycled?
  • Imagine that you are a steel can. Write a story called “A day in the life of a steel can”.
  • Make a list of all the things you can think of that are stored in steel cans.
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