Can You Recycle Keys

Can You Recycle Keys? (How and Where to Do It)

Have you got some old keys that you need to get rid of? Well, you will be pleased to know that most keys can be recycled.

Can You Recycle Keys? (How and Wher...
Can You Recycle Keys? (How and Where to Do It)

All keys that are completely metal can be recycled. If your keys have plastic on them, you should remove it if possible. If you can’t remove the plastic then you won’t be able to recycle that key. Mixed plastic and metal products cost too much to recycle together.

There are a few that cannot. However, most can be. Let’s explain!

Can You Recycle Keys?


In fact, they are incredibly easy to recycle. Anywhere that accepts scrap metal recycling will be able to work with most types of keys.

While you will not be able to get the keys picked up from the side of the road like some recycling, just about every single recycling center and dump will have somewhere that you can take your keys to be recycled. We will talk more about that in a short while.

What Do You Do With Old House Keys?

Old house keys should be recycled if possible. Keys that are made entirely made of metal can be placed in the mixed metal container at your local recycling center. Make sure that any plastic is removed from your keys before recycling them.

What Keys Cannot Be Recycled?

Nearly every single metal key can be recycled. However, you cannot recycle any key that has plastic actually on the key.

While both plastic and metal are recyclable, they cannot be recycled together. In order for them to be recycled, the metal would need to be separated from the plastic. Since the plastic will be sort-of ‘melted’ onto the key, this is going to be almost impossible. It would be far too resource-intensive to separate the two components.

So, if you have keys with plastic attached to them, and you cannot remove the plastic, then your only choice is to add the key to your standard trash.

What Keys Cannot Be Recycled

How Do You Recycle Keys?

Unless you are very lucky, you won’t be able to leave your old keys in the standard recycling by the side of your road. Not that we would recommend this anyway. After all, if the keys could still fit a lock, somebody could easily swipe them from the recycling and use them.

Your only option is to head to the local dump. You will then want to keep an eye out for the area designated for mixed metals. You can put them in this section. Your work will then be done.

When these areas are full, the company carrying out the recycling will collect all this metal and sort through it. This is to separate the metals out. This ensures that each type of metal can be recycled separately.

Once the metals have been separated, they will be crushed up into smaller pieces. How they do this will be dependent on the metal. Most of it will be crushed up into sheets, while steel will be crushed into cubes. This is all based upon how much energy it would take to process the metal even further.

After this, the metal will be heated up to an exceedingly high temperature. The idea is to melt it. Once the metal has been melted, any impurities in the metal can be removed.

Before the metal solidifies again, it will be added to various molds. The metal will then solidify in these molds. The now recycled metal will be sent to whichever companies are looking to buy metal.

Honestly, in the grand scheme of things, metal is one of the simplest of materials to recycle. It takes very little in the way of processing.

Can You Put Them in the Trash?

You can. However, the keys will just end up in a landfill like this. In an ideal world, we would be trying to reduce the number of items that we send to landfills. It is harmful to the planet. If something can be recycled, then it should be recycled.

Why Recycle Keys?

Because they can be recycled.

As you may well know, landfills across the United States have started to fill up at an astonishing speed. We should be putting as little into the landfills as we possibly can. Remember, metal doesn’t break down in the same way as other items. So, once the keys are in the ground, they are going to be there forever. Thankfully, it is unlikely that they will be leaking too many chemicals into the area. This means that they will not have that much of a negative impact.

Obviously, a small key is not really going to make a difference in the grand scheme of things. However, once you start to get into the swing of recycling, it is going to be good. Maybe a small key is just the start that you need?

Can You Do Anything Else with Old Keys?

If the key is for a lock that you are still using, then you may not need to recycle the keys at all. You may be able to fix your current key. A lot of the time, the metal will get small burrs in it from use.

This, essentially, means that the metal gets a little bit rougher so the key doesn’t work in the same way that it used to. You can attempt to file this metal down, or take the key to a locksmith. They may be able to fix the key for you. It certainly beats recycling it.

There are some people that will make fancy arts and crafts with some old keys. Obviously, this may be something a little bit difficult to do, but if there is an arts and crafts scene in your area and you have a lot of old, metal keys that you are no longer using, you may see some success offering the keys up on the Facebook Marketplace, or something like that.

If your keys are a few decades old and have a rather fancy look to them, then they may be of interest to local antique stores. You won’t receive much in the way of money for them (if anything), but at least you know that your key is going to be put to good use at the antique store. They will be able to sell it on to somebody that collects old keys.


Keys can be recycled, and are one of the easiest items to recycle. You just need to take them to the assorted metals area of your local dump. They will do the rest of the work for you.

Older keys can be “cleaned up” by removing burrs with a file. This will get them smoothly working in the lock again…assuming you still know what lock the key came from.