Appliance Recycling: How to Recycle Large and Small Appliances

When the time comes to get rid of an old appliance, your business is faced with the sometimes confusing task of figuring out how to dispose of it properly. With appliances ranging from large commercial refrigerators to small coffee makers, it can be difficult to know exactly how to get rid of these products in the most environmentally friendly way.

The Environmental Benefits of Recycling Old Appliances

Whether your business needs to upgrade dozens of commercial refrigerators, or you are looking for a more energy-efficient washing machine for your home, you will soon find yourself needing to dispose of old appliances.

It’s important to seek out the most environmentally friendly means of appliance recycling that is available in your community. In fact, holding onto an old appliance for too long can be worse for the environment than arranging for it to be recycled at the end of its useful life. By using an inefficient refrigerator or washing machine, for example, your energy consumption could unnecessarily spike, leading to higher resource use and greenhouse gas emissions.

However, if improperly disposed of, old appliances can wreak havoc on the environment. Poor disposal can lead to:

  • The release of hazardous substances such as used oil, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs);
  • Excess greenhouse gas emissions, including but not limited to carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor; and
  • The release of ozone-depleting substances (ODS), which are often found in refrigerants, into the atmosphere.

Appliance recycling covers numerous options available to consumers who are ready to part ways with their old appliances. Here are some of the different ways that you can recycle your old appliances.

Five Ways to Recycle Used Appliances

1) Appliance Resale or Donation

Depending on the condition and efficiency of your appliance, it may be beneficial to donate or sell it second-hand. This includes listing it on a resale site or donating it to a local thrift store or other location that accepts such donations. This option can be great for small appliance recycling, such as toasters or microwaves.

If you pursue this option, keep in mind the energy use/efficiency of your appliances. For example, while “reuse” is a key tenant of sustainability, putting an inefficient appliance back into use can have negative long-term impact, including high energy costs and increased energy use and emissions.

2) Appliance Swaps Through Retailers

If you are purchasing a new appliance for your business or home, you can often request the pickup of your old unit from the retailer. In fact, if you are in the market for a new appliance, large or small, try browsing products from retailers that specifically offer this service. This option streamlines your waste process and ensures that the appliance will be disposed of properly and recycled for parts.