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Because You Asked

Because You Asked: How Do I Recycle A Microwave?

By Recyclebank |

It’s not as easy as using one, but it is possible.

Dear Recyclebank: Today I recycled 2 DVRs. However, I could not convince them to take a microwave. Please help! I have tried 5 places to have it repaired. Where oh where does a dead microwave go? –Sharon M.

Dear Sharon: A microwave that still works can easily be sold or donated, but one that’s broken beyond repair is harder to get rid of. Microwave ovens don’t actually contain radioactive material like some people believe, as the non-ionizing radiation they use to cook food is generated by a component called a magnetron that agitates electrons drawn from a heated filament. However, they do have electrical components such as a capacitor that can be dangerous to handle.

As with most appliances, curbside recycling programs generally will not collect them, and as you found out, it can be hard to find other options as well — but given how many useful materials microwave ovens contain, it’s worth the effort to continue the search. Here are a few ideas:

  • If it’s a matter of one specific missing or broken part, try the repair route again. Check with the manufacturer about replacement parts, or check online with companies like PartSelect for a new part.
  • If a local appliance repair shop can’t fix your microwave, circle back to ask if they’d take it off your hands — they might be able to disassemble it for parts.
  • Double-check your local e-waste collection facilities to see if they’ll take microwaves. has a great general e-cycling finder.
  • Check dedicated appliance recyclers; they often accept microwaves. Earth911 has a search function that can help you locate one near you.
  • Check with the manufacturer to see if they’ll take back their microwaves for responsible disposal. For example, the popular microwave brand Hamilton Beach will accept any nonfunctioning Hamilton Beach product for proper disposal.

With some investigation into these options, there’s still hope that you’ll be able to find new life for your dead microwave.

Scientific American
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Have you had success recycling or repurposing a microwave oven? Let us know in the comments below!

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  • Geff M. 1 month ago
    i'm all 4 the re-purposing/recycling of anything; however, usually it costs less to purchase another item than to repair... unless of course u diy.
  • Bj S. 1 month ago
    If your are not handy this is the organization that can help. The Philly Fixers Guild is an independent collective of talented volunteers from differing technical backgrounds who are committed to the idea of “repair rather than replace.” The Guild was started in early 2014 by Ben Davis and Holly Logan who were volunteering together for a community sustainability program in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood. In most instances guild members will not simply fix items for people, but rather work with them to teach the troubleshooting and repair process. Ultimately, our community will benefits from less waste and improved economic conservation.
  • John D. 1 month ago
    My microwave's keypad is gradually going out. Darn I miss that Minute Plus button!
    A month later.
  • tommy b. 2 months ago
  • Ann M. 2 months ago
    we can take microwaves out to the recycle bin at the landfill. The bin is just for them.
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