Can I Recycle License Plates

Can I Recycle License Plates?

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Are you changing the plates on your vehicle? Want to know whether they can be recycled? Well, read on. We will tell you absolutely everything that you need to know!

License plates are recyclable. They’re almost all made of aluminum which is one of the easiest materials to recycle. Just about every recycling center should be able to handle them. You can also take them to your local DMV office and they will recycle them as well.

You absolutely can!

License plates tend to be made from aluminum, which is one of the most recyclable products. It is also one of those products that can be recycled almost constantly. It is never going to ‘wear down’ each time it has been recycled, so you can’t find that much better than this product if you really want to help the environment.

Where Can You Recycle License Plates?

Because license plates are such an easy thing to recycle, nearly every single recycling center will allow you to take them there. If a recycling place allows you to recycle aluminum, then that is where you need to be.

That being said, this is not the only place to take your old license plates. You may be surprised to know that you can head to your local DMV, hand them the license plate, and they will recycle it for you.

Recycling License Plates

Alternatively, some towns and cities will have a scheme where you can mail the license plate into the DMV. It certainly beats queuing there for hours and hours on end, doesn’t it?

Finally, you could also take the license plate to a scrap metal dealer. However, because the license plate is going to be quite ‘customized’, they may not readily accept it. This should only really be an option if nowhere else in your area deals with aluminum. However, the chances of you having scrap metal dealers and no other way to recycle aluminum are ridiculously small.

How Do You Prepare License Plates for Recycling?

Nope. Not really. It doesn’t matter if there is paint and the like on the license plate, this will end up being removed during the recycling process.

The one thing that you probably will want to do is give the license plate a good clean. While the recycling center will probably accept dirty license plates, you probably don’t want to give them more work than they need to do.

So, just give the license plate a wash down with some warm, soapy water and you should be fine. It doesn’t have to be pristine, it just shouldn’t be brimming with filth. The back of the license plate will probably need the heaviest work.

It doesn’t matter if there are dents and scratches on the license plate. They are going to be recycled, and this means that they will be melted down. They probably won’t ever be used as a license plate again.

How Are License Plates Recycled?

As we said before, license plates are among the simplest of items to recycle. They are infinitely recyclable. There is a strong chance that the license plate that you own now may have been some other aluminum product earlier in its life.

Let’s run you through the recycling process. That way you will have some idea about what it entails.

When you take the license plate to the recycling center, you will probably be adding it to the mixed metals bin. It is likely that the license plate will sit here for a long time. Many months, in fact. When the recycling center has filled that bin up, it will start to separate the metals out.

There is a good chance that this will be a manual job. Of course, your license plate is going to end up with the rest of the aluminum. This often means that it will be alongside a ton of old soda cans.

If there is enough aluminum to make it cost-effective to recycle, the next part of the process will begin. The recycling team will throw all of the aluminum into a big grinder. In the grinder, all of the metal will be broken down into small pieces.

It is important that these pieces are of a roughly even size. You do not want some pieces to be larger than others because it can make the next step far more resource-intensive, and the whole idea of recycling is to cut down on energy use, right?

In the next stage, all of the aluminum will be melted down. Chemicals will then be added into the mixture to help purify it. This is when all that paint should hopefully start to come away. That will be filled out and disposed of properly.

The aluminum will then be set into molds. These will often be blocks. Once the aluminum from the license plate has set, it will be shipped off to whichever companies need aluminum, which is a lot of them!

Can You Put Old License Plates In The Trash?

You can. However, there really is no need. It is so easy to recycle old license plates that you really shouldn’t be adding them to landfills. It makes no sense to us.

Remember, when you add a license plate to a landfill, it will be there for centuries. Aluminum is not biodegradable, which means that it is always going to be taking up space, which is never a good thing!

It is important to note that some towns and cities may even prohibit you from putting metal, including aluminum, into the trash. You will probably need to look into this to make sure.


License plates are very recyclable products. Not only are they useful when recycled, but they are also easy to start the recycling process.

No matter where you live, we are virtually certain that there will be a place in your local area that will accept license plates. You have no excuses!