Quick Tips to Recycle License Plates


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Recycle a license plate
Creative Commons License photo credit: Joelk75

License plates are made from metal, usually aluminum, tin or steel depending on how old they are and the state that they’re from. Today, most plates are made of light aluminum laminated with a reflective coating. This makes recycling easy because scrap metal recyclers all around will be happy to take license plates off your hands, and even give you a little cash for them.

This is the same concept we mention in recycling clothes hangers– for any item made from metal, including appliances, give your local recycling center a call to see if they will accept it. The Steel Recycling Institute also lets you search for places that recycle steel on their online locator.

Some old, antique license plates might be worth money. People who own antique cars like to add a little charm by using license plates on them from the year of the vehicle, especially classic cars like from the 1950s and 60s. It’s worth it to see if you could score some extra money by selling them on eBay.

Some Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices encourage you to bring your old license plates into them, so it’s worth asking at your nearest. With some arrangements, scrap aluminum ends up generating money for the county.

Tennessee has a program where you advertise how much you care about recycling on your license plate, which is also manufactured from recycled metal. In case you were wondering, the license plates are available for vehicles registered in the State of Tennessee only. Project 2000 Inc is a nonprofit org whose initiatives promote recycling education through practice, presentations, workshops and an annual recycling summit.

License Plate Art

recycle license plates

Hand cut pieces of NYC license plates made this recycled yellow cab art.

The art of Aaron Foster is created with license plates from all over the United States, hand carved into distinct forms and mounted onto a cedar background. Originally from Northern California, Aaron spent several years living and working in Atlanta, Georgia, where he utilized materials such as reclaimed wood from old homes and barns.

Littlearth, based out of Pittsburgh, rocks ecofashion with its recycled license plate purses, and aims for an average of at least 50% recycled content in their product line. Their license plates are sourced from junkyards from around the country.

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