Household furniture comes in all forms, from metal and plastic to wood and fabric. While this gives plenty of options for interior decorators, it also complicates the disposal process. As a rule of thumb, your best bet for old furniture is to repair if possible, donate if available, and recycle as bulk waste as a last resort.
Furniture Recycling Preparation
- Make sure your furniture is free of all personal items. If it’s a dresser or desk, empty the drawers. For couches and chairs, remove the cushions and check for loose change or receipts.
- Determine the base material of your furniture. Patio furniture is usually made of metal, whereas desks and tables are often wood or synthetic wood. Couches and chairs are typically upholstered in linen, cotton or leather.
- For furniture that is mostly metal, you’ll want to contact a scrap metal dealer to see if it can be picked up for recycling.
- For all other forms of furniture, call a local secondhand store to see if your product can be donated. Even if your furniture needs repair, many stores will perform these functions and resell your items. You can also list your furniture on sites like Craigslist or Freecycle, or sell it at a garage sale. Don’t donate or sell furniture if it’s come into contact with bedbugs or lice, though.
- If no stores will pick up your furniture and you can’t haul it to a recycler, ask your community if it provides bulk waste collection. Most cities specify bulk waste pick-up for large items like furniture, appliances and/or electronics at least once per year, but you’ll need to schedule collection.
Find organizations near you that accept furniture using our Recycling Locator.
Find Recycling Guides for Other Materials
Frequent Furniture Recycling Questions
Can I recycle furniture in my curbside recycling program?
It definitely won’t fit in your recycling bin, but most bigger cities offer bulk waste collection programs to pick up large items from the curb. If you call your city’s solid waste office and explain what you have, a representative will tell you if it can be collected at the curb.
Can I recycle furniture for money?
If your furniture is mostly metal and not upholstered, you should be able to recycle it as scrap metal and make money. However, you’ll have to drive it to your local scrap dealer, because companies won’t pay you and pick up furniture.
Do I need to disassemble my furniture before recycling?
No, and most furniture is not designed to be disassembled. When the item is picked up, the hauler will take any necessary measures to protect the furniture during transport, such as removing cushions and drawers.
How is furniture recycled?
The reality is that furniture is not designed to be easily recycled, and the costs of processing often outweigh the value of materials. Most of the wood used in furniture is treated with paint or varnish, which means it can’t be composted. While there is a market for leather scrap, it’s difficult to separate from the foam padding and other components. As a result, most furniture that can’t be reused will end up in a landfill.
Are there any states that require furniture recycling?
No. The closest any states have come to requiring furniture recycling is the three states (California, Connecticut and Rhode Island) that charge a fee when you buy a mattress to fund mattress recycling programs.
- 9 Ways to Refinish Wooden Furniture: Before you look to get rid of furniture, here are some ways to give it a fresh look
- Buy Furniture With a Future When You Shop Sustainably: Tips for buying eco-friendly new furniture
- Reuse Challenge: The Cardboard Chair: A guide to make your own furniture from sustainable products like cardboard