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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. GreenerGadgets.org 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.

SOURCES
CERN
EPA
FDA
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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  • Dona E. 1 month ago
    A yard sale is a great way to "recycle" also, I did this 2 weeks ago to lots of items that have many of years very good use left in them and I was downsizing. I had already donated many things I didn't want to try to get money for and these items will help pay for movers!
  • Dona E. 1 month ago
    I bought a Tom's of Maine toothbrush today and when I need a new one I'll get another. And this one I'll return to Terracycle to be recycled! I love this cycle!!
  • Peg R. 1 month ago
    When the manufacturer of our treadmill quoted a price for the parts to repair it at about 2/3 the cost we actually paid for it 10 years ago, I listed it for free on Craigslist. A couple that does salvage work picked it up and mentioned they will pick up refrigerators and any other appliances for free as well no matter their condition.
  • Gina L. 1 month ago
    Like most things built/made these days they are prone to die an early life. Most manufactures find they make more money with disposable products. It is a sad statement. The modern companies want you to buy a new appliance/product rather than fix it. There is more money coming their way. Laws should be made to accent warranties and life of any item.
  • Geff M. 5 months 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.
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