If you are a shotgun owner and use your gun very often, your shotgun shell collection has grown a lot. With the growing concern of the environment, it’s necessary to dispose of shotgun shells safely.

Without harming yourself or nature in the process, let’s find out some easy ways to dispose of shotgun shells. As it’s your responsibility to clean after yourselves, it’s super important to dispose of shotgun shells the right way. Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science.

Let’s find out the solution to this growing problem together.

What Are Shotgun Shells Made of?

Before we know the process of disposing of them, it’s necessary to know what you are working with. I’m sure this question has spun in your head at least once. Most modern shotgun shells are made out of plastic components, gunpowder inside, brass plating, and primer.

The amount of brass found in the shell will depend on the shell type. So, in short, you will mostly be left with a little bit of brass and lots of plastic waste.

How To Dispose of Shotgun Shells?

Here are a couple of ways that you can follow in terms of disposing of the shells.

Recycle The Shells

The best way to not waste the shells is to recycle them. A lot of recycling centers will accept shotgun shells as long as they are made out of metal. But a lot of them will not accept them due to the risk of having explosive gunpowder left in them. So, make sure to talk with your local center first before you take them in for recycling. As for the plastic ones, the same rule applies. Most of them will accept plastic ones.

Dispose of Them in A Metal Container

If your local area has no recycling center and you don’t have access to one in the nearest city either, then it’s best to dispose of them in a metal container. Put all of your shells in a metal container and then throw them in a dumpster or in a landfill.

Before you throw them out, make sure that the metal container is tightly sealed and it’s not explosive either. You don’t want your shells to run around freely in the landfill.

Use Them For Craft

Sounds ridiculous, but it’s something to think about. Shotgun shells can be used for a variety of little crafts. From jewelry to picture frames, the limit is your imagination and the method of crafting.

Shoot The Old Shells

Now this method is something that I don’t recommend to everyone. I just threw it in for fun. And that’s exactly what this method is. If you are somewhat of a gun enthusiast and possess a lot of different weapons.

It’s a good idea to practice those weapons while using your old shells as targets. Now, I don’t recommend this because it creates more waste. But if you do it in a contained area, then you can easily control the waste happening and then later throw it in a garbage bin inside a metal container.

Give Them Away

I’m sure you are in contact with your local gun agency/firms. You would be surprised, but a lot of them accept old shotgun shells and they recycle them through their connections.

Are Shotgun Shells Recyclable?

It depends on the type of shell. For the most part, it’s recyclable. If you possess just the brass casing or the plastic shell, both of them are recyclable. While you, yourself might not be able to DIY recycle them, a recycling center that has the machinery needed for the job can easily do it on your behalf.

How To Recycle Shotgun Shells?

You cannot do that yourself. It’s better to leave this to the professional. What you can do is give your contribution to the process. You can leave the shotgun shells at your garbage bin and they will find ways to deal with it.

Also, you can participate in waste collection events. Very often, there are waste-collecting events going on that specialize in metal and plastic collection. Depending on what kind of shells you have, you might want to take part in them and give them away your entire shell collection. Whether it’s full of plastic or full of brass, both of them will get recycled into usable materials again.

What Not To Do While Disposing of Shotgun Shells?

There are a couple of things that you should keep in mind while disposing of shotgun shells.

Don’t Throw Them in The Trash Bin

Throwing away your ammo in the garbage bin won’t solve the problems. They can still be hazardous when they are going through the burner at garbage disposal. It’s better to dispose of them the right way.

Don’t Soak Them

Doesn’t matter if it’s oil or water. Don’t soak your shells in anything. Some people often put shotgun shells in water or oil to replace the remaining gunpowder inside the shells. Don’t be like them. It’s hazardous and makes it nearly impossible for the shell to be recycled.

Burying Is Not The Solution

They are not biodegradable. If you leave them for a thousand years, they will remain the same. Maybe a bit cracked or deflated, but they won’t degrade into the earth and mix with it. So, don’t be a fool enough to bury them.

Can You Throw Away Shotgun Shells?

No, you cannot. There are proper ways to dispose of them as I mentioned. And if you are unable to follow any of the steps I mentioned thus far, it’s better for you to reach out to the right people.

Reach out to your local gun range owners or friends who are in the shooting life longer than you. For sure, they can direct you to the place where you can easily recycle or dispose of your shotgun shells.


I hope you don’t waste your shells anymore and repurpose them the right way. Sure, it seems like a hassle at first and you might not want to do all the steps I mentioned thus far. But I assure you, it’s your duty to do such. If you use a shotgun, you are obliged to take care of the waste generated by it.

That’s all for now. I hope you learned something new and useful. Till we meet again, take care and have fun. Remember, keeping the world clean is our duty.

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