Live Green and Earn Points

Recyclebank

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!

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • Christine G. 1 month ago
    My next door neighbors son will sell parts his dad has taken apart from broken appliances on eBay for some extra cash and it's always a much better deal cost wise for the recipient
  • Tanya M. 1 month ago
    check out local "metals" recycling in your area. Most places will take and either take apart or ship out to be broken down to properly recycle all parts, i used to work at a recycling center that did this
  • tommy b. 1 month ago
    Today
  • Donna P. 3 months ago
    Our Best Buy recycles all electronics in the Philly area, but I have no idea how to recycle old pots & pans. Anyone have any ideas?
  • Linda W. 10 months ago
    the last dead microwave we had needed to be escorted to the landfill... just as dead as a doornail. Otherwise, I could have used it as a paperweight...
  • View More