How to recycle an antenna

Maybe you’ve just upgraded your old antenna to something more modern. Maybe it’s just time for that old workhorse to come off the roof. Either way, if you have an old antenna, don’t just throw it in the trash. There’s still some value there and it’s better for the planet if you look for a way to recycle it.

Option 1: Strip off the aluminum

If you’re dealing with an old yagi-style antenna, there’s a lot of aluminum there. You can take a pair of tinsnips and cut the thing apart so that what’s left is a bundle of aluminum “sticks.” That should be easy enough for you to put in your trunk or truck bed. When you go to recycle other aluminum cans, you should be able to take that stuff with you.

Option 2: Take it to an electronics recycler

This is going to be the easiest option for you. Just break the antenna up into small enough bits that you can take it somewhere. A lot of cities and towns have electronics recycling events where you can drop off practically anything for free. Giving your old antenna to a recycler will guarantee that everything, from the lead solder to the plastic connection points, will be properly recycled.

If the recycler wants to charge you to take an antenna, find someone else! Many cities and towns offer electronics recycling on a once-a-month basis as part of overall househould hazardous waste recycling. It’s worth it to wait in line a little bit if there’s no other option to do it for free.

But can’t you just put it in the trash?

Yes, with most antennas, you can probably just break it up and put it in the trash. The amount of lead, plastic, and other hazardous materials is pretty low and the impact to the local landfill isn’t that much. But really, if you think about it, you’re disposing of aluminum that could be recycled over and over again instead of having to mine new aluminum from the ground. Recycling that antenna is a great way to be smart and keep the planet healthy at the same time.

What if the antenna is covered in plastic?

It’s become a lot more common in the last few years to cover antennas in plastic covers. This makes them look more cool and futuristic as opposed to the old “aluminum arrow” look from the mid-20th century.

If you do have a plastic-covered antenna you can still do the work to strip the aluminum out of it. Chances are there’s a lot more of it there than you realize. But if you don’t want to, going to an electronics recycler is a better bet. Let them do the hard work of stripping everything down. After all that’s what they do all day and I bet they’re pretty good at it.

When you’re ready for a new antenna…

I think everyone should have an over-the-air antenna. Sure that old one might not have suited your needs but a new one just might! Today’s antennas are smaller and look cooler than ever before. With the advent of super-low-noise amplifiers, it’s easier than ever to get distant signals. So, why not check out the great selection of antennas at Solid Signal? If you help picking one, get a free recommendation from a real, certified antenna technician by filling out this form.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.