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Getting rid of a microwave is more complicated than it might seem. Your first impulse might be to just toss it in the trash. However, that can actually lead to fines in some places.
Disposing of your old microwave safely is important. Here’s how to throw away your microwave simply and legally.
Can You Throw Away a Microwave in a Dumpster?
It depends. Different cities and counties have different rules for how to dispose of microwaves. Some cities allow you to toss microwaves into dumpsters as long as you have permission to use the dumpster. Others places consider microwaves “e-waste” or “small appliances” and have special rules.
Your local government should have a website with information on how to toss your old microwave. If they don’t list microwaves specifically, you can probably toss your microwave in a dumpster. However, donating or recycling your old unit is better for the environment and it’s legal everywhere. If you’re not sure about tossing it, then recycle or donate your unit instead.
Where Can You Dispose of a Microwave?
If you’re not able to use a dumpster, there are a bunch of places that will take your old microwave.
- Thrift/donation stores: If your old microwave still works, then donate it! Someone else can get some more use out of it before it’s decommissioned for good. Plus, most second-hand stores donate some of their proceeds to charities, so you’re doing good twice.
- Local landfills: Most landfills allow for people to dump things directly at the landfill for a small fee. If you’re getting rid of an old microwave but you’re not allowed to use a dumpster, the local landfill is probably your best bet. They will have a specific bin for appliances or e-waste, depending on the city.
- Electronic stores: If you have a newer microwave, it will have some fancy circuitry inside. Some electronic stores will take microwaves and recycle them for you, in exchange for the metals in the circuits. Check your local stores to see if there’s one near you that accepts microwaves.
- Bulk trash pickup days: Most cities have at least once-yearly bulk trash pickup days. On those days, large items like microwaves can be set out along with your normal trash. If there’s a bulk trash day coming up, that’s a great way to dispose of your microwave.
- Utility companies: If your old microwave is particularly energy-inefficient, your utility company might come get it from you. Many power companies will pick up old, inefficient appliances for free if you’re replacing it with something newer.
- The manufacturer: If you got your microwave from a well-known brand, you might be able to send it back to them for free. Some appliance manufacturers will even pay shipping costs so they can properly recycle your unit.
Can You Recycle a Microwave?
Many parts of a microwave are recyclable. The problem is finding a place that will accept the microwave in the first place.
In most places, you can’t just drop your microwave in your recycling bin. Microwaves are complex appliances, and require specific processing to separate all the components. That means that they need to go to specific recycling centers.
When you send your old microwave back to the manufacturer or to an e-waste disposal company, they usually recycle what they can. If you’re having trouble finding a place to recycle your microwave, check Earth911.com. They have a search feature to help you find recycling centers near you that accept all sorts of household appliances.
What Stores Accept Old Microwaves?
Plenty of stores will accept your old microwave. There may be a small processing fee, or they may take it for free. Finding a store near you can be as simple as finding the nearest big tech or appliance dealer in your area. Stores that accept old microwaves include:
- Office Depot
- General Electric
- Independent appliance repair stores
They take apart the unit, recycle what they can, and properly dispose of the rest. That takes a weight off your shoulders.
Is it safe to take an old microwave apart?
Yes, if it’s unplugged, you can safely take apart an old microwave. You can remove the casing and disassemble everything except the magnetron.
Microwaves use a lot of electricity, so it’s critical to unplug the unit before you take it apart. Otherwise, you can easily electrocute yourself. Once it’s unplugged, though, it’s just another appliance. Microwaves contain no radioactive element, so there’s no risk there.
The one thing to watch for is the magnetron. The magnetron is the unit that generates the electromagnetic waves that cook your food. When it’s left intact, it’s safe to handle. However, if you take it apart, the magnetron can release several substances that are dangerous to inhale. Leave the magnetron in one piece for your own safety.
Are there any microwave parts worth selling?
Depending on your microwave, it might contain parts worth selling. The scrap value of your microwave likely isn’t much. Individual parts might have value to people looking to repair their units, though.
If you’re scrapping a relatively expensive microwave, plenty of parts will have replacement part value. These parts include:
- Working magnetrons
- Vent fans
- Turn table trays
An appliance repair store is probably the easiest place to sell these parts, because they fix microwaves regularly. You can also sell the parts yourself, but it will take time. Your best bet is to either put these parts up on eBay, or sell the whole unit for parts to a dedicated appliance repair specialist.
Getting rid of a microwave can be annoying, but it’s definitely possible. Checking your municipal dump website will give you information on how to dispose of your microwave. You can also take it to companies that offer appliance disposal and recycling.
I hope that this article has helped you figure out how to get rid of your old microwave.
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