extension cord, jumper cables

Spend a few minutes cleaning out your garage or the junk drawer, and you’re bound to find one or two power or extension cords you no longer use. Now, obviously, if these cords are still usable, you can donate them so someone else can use them. But if they no longer work, can you recycle them?

To recycle extension cords and any other power cords, look for an electronics recycler in your area. Most electronics recycling programs will accept all power cords that came with your old electronic devices, as well as any additional electric cords and cables.

Recycling Power Cords

Most power cords contain wires made from copper or aluminum, which are highly recyclable metals. The wires are surrounded by an insulating layer made of plastic or rubber. While the insulator isn’t necessarily recyclable, the metal inside is valuable, so recyclers will strip out the wire and recycle it.

To recycle your old cords, e-waste facilities are your best option. Many communities now have dedicated e-waste recycling facilities, either run by private companies or by the local government. Best Buy is another popular e-waste recycler, and power cords are just one type of item they accept.

Before you head to your local e-waste recycler, be sure to give them a call and verify they will accept power cords on their own. Some facilities will only them when they come attached to a device that you’re recycling, such as a desktop computer.

So, any time you take electronics to your local e-waste recycler, be sure to bring the cords with you. This will help reduce the number of random power cords you have lying around the house.

If your city or county doesn’t have a dedicated e-waste recycler or facility, they may host an e-waste recycling event when you can bring in your e-waste. Check with your local recycling facility or waste department to find out if and when they offer these events. You can also search the Earth911 recycling directory to find a recycling option in your area. Most places that accept home electronics will take your old power cords but confirm with them first.

Tip: If you have an old cell phone charger you no longer use, you can call up local shelters to see if they will take them. It’s often the case that people staying there are in need of chargers.

Can You Reuse Extension Cords?

Unfortunately, there aren’t too many ways to reuse extension cords other than for their intended purpose. Do pass the cords on to a friend or donate them to Good Will or another thrift store if the cords are still usable.

If you have a cable that gets hot or doesn’t seem to work correctly, it’s important to recycle it rather than passing it on to anyone else.

Repairing Extension Cords

If you do yard work with power tools attached to extension cords, there’s a good chance you’ve accidentally cut a cord. Fortunately, it’s possible to repair an extension cord. Note that it’s not recommended that you splice a cut extension cord back together, as it won’t have the abrasion resistance of a new cord. Instead, you can create two extension cords from the cut cord, assuming both ends are long enough. To do this, you’ll just add a new plug to the cut end. To learn exactly how to do this, visit the Family Handyman.

Of course, if one end isn’t long enough to create an extra cord, be sure to recycle it.

Feature image courtesy of A3DigitalStudio, Pixabay. Originally published on February 6, 2019, this article was updated in February 2021.

By Brian Brassaw

Brian formerly managed the Earth911 Recycling Search and shared green living tips and tricks on Earth911’s Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter accounts. Brian also shares DIY projects on Little Pilots Lounge.