Can You Recycle Spark Plugs? (And Are They Universal?)

Spark plugs are essential car parts that need to be changed at periodic intervals. Of course, they are not typical household or office materials, but they are more common than you think. Everyone who has a car certainly has spark plugs as the engine cannot run without them.

If you drive a car with a V8 engine, you will look at eight spark plugs that will require changing subsequently. The least amount of spark plugs a car need is four. If you own a car, then it is inevitable that you will deal with old spark plugs from time to time.

Now, what do you do with the spark plugs you don’t need anymore? Do you wrap them up and throw them in the bin? Or, if you support the green movement, then your immediate thought will be to recycle old spark plugs.

Well, we have cooked up this blog post to enlighten you on the various environmentally-friendly ways you can dispose of your old car plugs. So, please, dive right in!

Are Spark Plugs Recyclable?

For your safety, you have to service your car regularly. Sometimes, auto-shop recommendations include changing your spark plugs, which begs what to do with them when they are old and useless.

Well, you may choose to recycle them. Spark plugs are recyclable; however, they require a special treatment when they are being recycled.

First, you have to take off the ceramic head. It is pretty straightforward to take apart.

Next, you have to gather the metal part of the spark plugs and put them in a bag. Spark plugs are pretty small, so it will be a waste of time to take them to the recycling center one after the other. The best way to go about it is to gather the plugs and dispose of them all simultaneously.

Now, when you want to recycle the plugs, you have to inquire at your local recycling center to find out if they accept metal bits. Numerous recycling centers mostly take on materials like plastic and paper, and you find just a few accepting metals. If your recycling center does not accept metals, don’t fret because we have still got you covered.

If you are like several people who live in a community where the recycling center does not accept metals, then you can use a recycling locator to find the nearest one that does. Simply log on to your computer or mobile phone and look for the closest recycling center that recycled metals. It will point you in the direction of the closest one.

As for the ceramic part of the spark plugs, disposing of them should be a walk in the park. The pieces are too tiny to be recycled, and as such, you can throw them in the black bin. Ceramics do not harm the environment in any way, even though they are non-biodegradable.

Your best option is to recycle your spark plugs if you want to protect the environment. If you simply bin them, then they have the potential to harm the environment because they will never decompose. They will end up taking up space in our landfills and remain there for as long as fifty to five hundred years.

Are Spark Plugs Hazardous Waste?

Spark plugs are made majorly from copper. Copper is regarded as hazardous because it contains very dangerous metals. Some of these metals include lead, zinc, and cobalt. Therefore, if you leave spark plugs lying around, you may be inadvertently causing some harm to the atmosphere and the environment.

Aside from the inability of copper to disintegrate, when you leave them lying around in large quantities, they can be very toxic to the environment. If they happen to find their way into the ocean, we would have many dead aquatic animals on our hands.

Of course, copper in small quantities is not harmful to the body. However, the copper in spark plugs is not pure. It contains metals that have been tagged harmful to us.

So yes. Spark plugs are a hazardous waste because of many reasons. One of which is that copper does not decompose. If you dispose of it wrongly, you may be leaving behind a mess for generations to come. Simply put, it may end up lying in landfills for about 50 to 500 years.

Eventually, it will break down, but it will take a long time before it does. Even when it breaks down, it never really goes away. The environment simply acquired some new particles from the old spark plugs. So, if you don’t want to leave behind a mess for generations to come, you may want to dispose of your spark plugs the right way.

Another reason spark plugs may be hazardous waste is because of their metallic components. They are not made from pure copper; they contain about four other metals. Unfortunately, they are not harmless ones. Some of them include lead, cobalt, and zinc.

Recent research proves that these metals can be very harmful if they are found in a particular quantity. But, of course, you may never know the exact amount and if you have exceeded it or are close to surpassing it by leaving your spark plugs lying around your trash can or waste disposal system at home. The only way around it is to ensure that you dispose of them properly.

Now, how do you dispose of spark plugs which are hazardous waste? Well, here goes. You break off the ceramic heads and bin them. Ceramics are not harmful to the environment, even though they never really decompose.

Next, you gather the metallic parts of the spark plugs and put them in a bag. They can be melted at recycling centers and used for a range of other things. So, you are saving your environment and ensuring that materials do not go to waste.

Are Spark Plugs Universal?

Not all spark plugs are universal. They are available in various sizes, even though the shapes are the same. So, of course, you should buy a matching set for your vehicle.

Spark plugs have various sizes that have been designed for the variety of vehicle engines available. Indeed, you cannot use the spark plugs for a monster truck if you drive a minivan.

Aside from the sizes, spark plugs vary in that there are three major types based on the materials they are made from. There are copper, double platinum, and iridium spark plugs. Of course, they all have their various uses, and you certainly should not buy just anyone unless they are recommended at the auto shop.

Even though spark plugs aren’t universal, the method of disposal remains the same. First, you should bin the ceramic head and recycle the metallic elements.

Are Spark Plugs Worth Anything in Scrap?

Well, spark plugs may be worth something in scrap. You can use your old spark plugs to earn some extra bucks from the scrapyards. However, you will need a large amount because, frankly, one or two spark plugs aren’t worth anything.

Here’s how it works. First, you will have to gather the plugs over time. Then, you may get a small bag for it and save up your spark plugs. Finally, when you have a substantial amount, then you may tote them down to the scrapyard.

They certainly will not reuse those plugs at the scrapyard. Once the spark plugs have covered a certain thousand miles, they become completely useless for another vehicle. You cannot repair them.

These metals are gathered over time at the scrapyard and melted to form a range of metals for human use. So yes, your old spark plugs may be worth a few bucks. However, they have to meet up with the required weight before scrapyards take them off your hands.

The weight varies from county to county. You may want to inquire at your scrapyard so you can know how much you need to make some extra bucks.

Toting your spark plugs down to the scrapyard is beneficial because you make some extra bucks off it and keep more metallic waste away from the environment. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t decompose, so it may just end up lying around for several decades.

What Happens With Old Spark Plugs?

Now, aside from recycling your old spark plugs, there are several things you can do with them. The golden rule is that you reuse, repurpose and then recycle. Recycling may become your last resort when the material you are disposing of has no reuse value.

We have a few things you can do with your old spark plugs. So please, sit back and enjoy!

1. Hat and Coat Hangers

We bet you didn’t know that you can turn your old spark plugs into hat and coat hangers. Well, now you do. The best part is that this craft is easy to workaround.

First, you will need powerful glue. Next, you need a base holder for the spark plugs. It can be a wooden slab or even an item that you have been to dispose of. You may paint that item, add some glue to the spark plugs’ round bottom, and attach them to the slab.

Then you may attach the slab to your wall with a nail gun or strong adhesive, and voila, you have yourself a homemade hat and coat hanger.

2. Crafty Wall Clocks

This here is a crafty piece that requires a substantial number of spark plugs. You may choose to attach them directly to your wall with a strong adhesive or get a base for them. Your base can be an old drum cover splashed with your favorite colors.

Then, you may circularly attach the spark plugs. It could also be any shape that you desire, but you have to ensure that it will eventually fit the image of a wall clock.

You may choose to buy a new timepiece for this craft or use an old one you have meant to throw away.

3. Bottle Openers

This craft sure is going to save you from subsequently using your teeth to crack open your beers. Get a bottle opener from the supermarket, or use one you have at home already. Saw off the opener part, and attach it to the round part of your old spark plug.

4. Key Holders

Well, this craft is similar to the hat and coat hanger craft. However, you may put less space between the plugs this time.


The environment is filled with all sorts of materials that are not likely to go away for several decades. However, we can all do our parts by reducing the non-biodegradable materials we dump in our landfills. A way to go around it is to recycle the materials that can be recycled and repurpose those that we can.


Share on:

About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.