Are you wondering what to do with an old microwave oven? Maybe it’s time to make room for something new, maybe it’s broken, or maybe you’re just decluttering. Whatever your reason may be, don’t worry–you’re in the right place!
In this article, you will learn all about how to dispose of a microwave safely and easily, as well as some important rules you need to follow. We’ll even cover a few ideas to get rid of your old microwave sustainably.
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Is it safe to throw away a microwave?
If you were planning to throw your old microwave in the trash, think again.
Microwaves are made up of many individual electrical components that can create serious problems if disposed of incorrectly. In fact, it is even against the law to do so in many countries and cities due to the chance of radiation leaks.
Sending your old microwave to the local landfill seems like the easiest way to get rid of it. However, it’s harmful to both our planet and the well-being of our trash collectors. It just isn’t worth it.
To steer clear of any penalties and fines from breaking the law, learn about the rules and regulations governing e-waste and hazardous waste in your area. Visit important websites like the EPA for guidelines, lists of certified electronics recyclers, and RAD partners in your area (more about this below).
In the unlikely event that your local government doesn’t have a rule specific to e-waste disposal, you might be able to legally dispose of your microwave in a dumpster.
But even in that case, you do first need to call your local municipality and ask them if they can accept it. Most cities require that the homeowner pay a small fee for this service.
Sometimes authorities require that the e-waste from specific areas or neighborhoods amount to a certain weight or size to be eligible for collection service.
If this is the case for you, it will only be possible to dispose of it about once a year on bulk trash pick-up days. While not the quickest option, this is both the most responsible, safe, and convenient way to get rid of your microwave without having to pay any charges.
What to do with an old microwave that works
If your microwave is still up and running, there are plenty of sustainable ways to get rid of small appliances. Consider one of these options below:
The best way to get rid of your working microwave is to give it a new home.
If you can’t get your friends and family to take it off your hands, reach out to thrift stores and nonprofit organizations in your area. There are many places that appreciate donations of working appliances.
Local clubs, schools, and churches often welcome donations of electronic goods that are too expensive to buy first-hand.
Dropping your microwave off at a Goodwill store or at your local thrift or donation store is another option if it’s in good enough shape. Ensure that it is neat and clean before you donate it to increase the likelihood of it being accepted.
Sell via online marketplaces
Online marketplaces are a staple of zero waste living. Sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace are great for reselling appliances that are in good shape and fully functional–no garage sale needed.
Plus, it’s pretty easy too! It mostly just involves making and placing your ad and waiting for bids. If you’re lucky, you’ll have some interested buyers in a matter of a few hours to a couple of days (I’ve sold plenty of stuff lightning fast on Facebook Marketplace).
You can then finalize a date and time that works for both of you and have your stuff picked up from wherever you want. This option is also great because it gives you a little extra money to put towards the purchase of your new appliance.
Sell it for parts
Lots of appliance repair shops will purchase your used microwave for parts and scrap metal. It won’t be much, but it’s still something!
The most valuable parts inside a microwave for resellers are the magnetron, the capacitor, and the diode, and if any of those are in working condition, odds are you’ll have yourself a deal.
Just note that these parts mentioned are also the parts of the microwave that are most dangerous to handle on your own, so do not attempt to dismantle or scrap it yourself unless you are qualified to do so.
Check warranty for manufacturing repair
If your microwave is still working but it just isn’t performing as it once did, it may be possible that the damage is not as bad as you think. In this case, you should check to see if your microwave is still covered under warranty and whether or not it’s eligible to get a free repair.
Dig up your microwave’s receipt, manual, or warranty card and get in touch with the manufacturing company. If your product is still relatively new, you might even be able to get yourself a brand new microwave.
How to dispose of a broken microwave
Alright, so figuring out what to do with one that works isn’t too hard. But what to do with an old microwave that’s broken? One safe way to get rid of a microwave is to recycle it.
Recycling not only saves and makes use of reusable parts, but also protects the environment. However, with something as bulky and full of electrical parts as a microwave, it’s not an option to just shove it in the “recycle bin” and call it a day.
If you are wondering how to recycle a microwave, here are a few ways to do it:
Finding an electronic recycling center
You might be surprised at how many of the household items you no longer use might still be useful at an electronic waste (e-waste) recycling center.
These centers attempt to repair and dismantle electronic appliances into salvageable parts to reprocess, sell, and redistribute. They also discard the unusable parts safely and properly.
Check the web to see if there are any local e-waste recycling centers near you that accept microwaves. As mentioned earlier, EPA is a good place to start your search. Some centers also offer pick-up services so be sure to call and check.
Check with the manufacturer for disposal
Most major consumer electronics brands offer some kind of e-waste recycling program to help their customers dispose of their used products in a responsible way.
In fact, some companies take their programs seriously enough to even cover shipping costs for you, making the process that much more accessible. You can usually find information about your microwave manufacturer’s take-back program by either checking their website or calling their customer service line for help.
Make use of drop-offs at retail stores
Retail stores sometimes have e-waste drop boxes where guests are welcome to drop off their old kitchen appliances like microwaves and toasters.
Staples, Lowes, Best Buy, and Office Depot are a few of the US stores that even hold free events every so often for the community to drop off their electronic waste. And in the UK, Curry’s recently announced that they’ll take small appliances.
Just remember to call and confirm first before heading out with your microwave!
Utility companies and electronic shops
Some power utility companies will handle microwave disposal for a minimal charge due to them having a couple of parts that are sometimes still usable. It’s definitely worth your time to check if there are any in your area that would be willing to inspect and take yours.