While small appliances like blenders and toasters are built to last a long time, eventually you’ll look to upgrade. These products are mostly composed of metal like steel, making them pretty easy to recycle, and also something you want to keep out of a landfill.
Small Appliances Recycling Preparation
- Unplug your appliance for several days before recycling to let it cool down.
- For microwaves or other heavier appliances (e.g., breadmakers), tie up the cord using either a twist tie or the cord itself (or tape it to the unit). The last thing you want is to trip while carrying an item that may weigh 25 to 50 pounds.
- If the item is still in working condition, consider donating it to a thrift store. While it’s not required that you clean appliances before donation, it’s certainly appreciated.
- If your appliance has removable parts not made of metal (such as the tempered glass or plastic blender jar), there probably isn’t a recycling market for those. You can remove these parts prior to recycling.
Why Recycle Small Appliances
- Steel (the most recycled material in the U.S.) makes up 75 percent of the average appliance, and home appliances account for 10 percent of steel recycled in the U.S. each year
- Microwaves have computer chips in them that contain valuable metals like gold, and the power cord on electronics is made of coated copper
Frequent Small Appliance Recycling Questions
Can I recycle small electronics in my curbside recycling program?
One of the biggest pet peeves of recycling officials is when consumers put a toaster in the recycling bin because “metal” is accepted. Unless your program specifically says it accepts appliances, don’t put them in the bin/cart.
However, many communities offer bulky waste collection as a separate service, and appliances of all sizes are often included. You’ll need to call your local solid waste hauler to verify acceptance and schedule a pickup.
Can I make money recycling small appliances?
Often, scrap metal recyclers accept appliances of all sizes, and will pay you based on the weight of the unit. Be careful when trying to recycle microwaves for money, as they contain electronic components and are sometimes excluded from collection at scrap metal yards.
Do appliance manufacturers offer recycling?
The EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program has developed a nationwide recycling program for appliances. As of 2017, BSH Home Appliances and General Electric are the only manufacturers to partner on this program. No other manufacturers have public-facing recycling programs.
Do utility companies offer appliance recycling?
This depends on your local utility company, but many offer incentives to get energy-draining appliances out of commission. Many utility companies are part of the Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program.
What is a “white good”?
White good is the industry term for appliances, which traces its roots back to the United Kingdom. In the 20th century, most manufactured appliances were made of steel coated in white, hence the name. If you ever see white goods in a recycling context, it means appliances.
Is there anything special about recycling microwaves?
Microwaves are in a way the black sheep of appliances. Not only are they a hybrid size between large and small appliances, but they contain electronic components like the capacitor in the back, which must be removed before recycling. They also contain less-desirable components like the tempered glass window.
Microwaves are omitted by retail locations that accept electronics, like Best Buy and Staples, and oftentimes by scrap metal recyclers as well. Your best bet may be to schedule an office electronics recycling event where you partner with an e-waste recycling company. An e-waste recycler will be more likely to accept a microwave at no charge if it’s combined with more-valuable items like computers and cell phones.
How are small appliances recycled?
For microwaves, a recycler must remove the capacitor and process as electronic waste. For other devices, the appliance is shredded into tiny pieces, after which magnets will remove any steel, and eddy currents will remove any nonferrous metals (like aluminum). The remaining components, tempered glass and plastics are then separated and sold to manufacturers.
Are there any states that require small appliances recycling?
As of 2017, 22 states have banned appliances from landfills, including California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania. Luckily, these laws mean it’s much easier to find appliance recycling options in these states.
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