How to Dispose of a Microwave Properly
Keep your old kitchen appliance out of a landfill with one of these microwave oven disposal ideas.
Q: I finally bit the bullet and bought a new over-the-range microwave to replace the small countertop model I’ve had for several years. I’m ready to free up my counter space, but I’m not sure how to dispose of a microwave properly. Is there anything special I should do, or should I just put the old microwave out on the curb with my trash?
A: This is a common question most homeowners and renters will face at some point. You should avoid putting a microwave out with the trash, since it will end up in a landfill, so not the best option. Our landfills are filling up fast with electronic waste. About 53.6 million tonnes of electronic waste were added to global landfills in 2019 alone, so any steps we can take to reduce this number are important. Rather than throwing your old microwave out, consider one of the more environmentally-friendly disposal options below.
Understand your local laws and regulations for microwave oven disposal.
Before determining how to dispose of an old microwave, start by checking the laws and regulations in your area. Microwaves often are classified as electronic waste (e-waste), and, as such, cannot simply be placed out with the trash or tossed into a dumpster. Consulting local regulations will help you identify whether there are any specific directions listed for microwave disposal.
If you are unable to find information about microwave disposal for your locality, consider reaching out to a county or city official. They should be able to give you the answers you need or direct you to the right resource to find answers.
Donate a working microwave.
When you are wondering what to do with an old microwave that is still working, consider donating it. This will not only keep it out of a landfill, but it will provide someone with a working appliance they may not have been able to afford otherwise.
Some local charity organizations accept donations of old, working microwaves. You’ll likely need to bring the microwave to the donation center, but in some cases, you may also be able to schedule a pickup. In addition to donating to a local organization, you can check with friends and family to see if anyone you know is in need of a microwave. Nearby businesses or schools may also need an additional microwave for their employee lounge.
Related: How To: Dispose of Cooking Oil
Sell a working microwave online.
Rather than trying to dispose of microwave ovens that are fully functional and in good shape, you could try to sell your appliance online. Local yard sale groups and other online websites make it easy to find potential buyers.
Selling your microwave online will provide you with a little extra cash that you could put toward the purchase of your new microwave, use to buy other household necessities, or add to your savings account for a rainy day.
Take it to an e-waste recycling center.
Bringing your old microwave oven to an e-waste recycling center is an eco-friendly option. E-waste recycling centers don’t simply dispose of microwave ovens; they take the appliances apart to separate any materials that can be repurposed.
Whereas some electronics taken to recycling centers are exported to other countries where they cannot be safely recycled, e-waste recycling centers take appropriate precautions to safely recycle and dispose of old electronic components.
If you don’t know where to find your local e-waste recycling center, you can do a quick internet search to identify nearby locations. Some e-waste recyclers may also allow you to schedule a pickup appointment.
See if the manufacturer has a take-back program.
Some manufacturers have special programs to help customers dispose of microwaves. These companies will take back their old microwaves to reuse some of the electrical components and properly recycle the rest of the parts.
If you’re not sure whether your microwave’s manufacturer offers such a program, call or email the company’s customer service department. They’ll be able to let you know if a program exists, and if so, give you instructions for returning the old microwave. You may need to cover the shipping costs, but it is also possible that the manufacturer will cover these costs to ensure the unit is recycled properly.
Related: How To: Dispose of Light Bulbs
Drop it off at a retail store that accepts old appliances.
You can also look for a nearby retailer that accepts microwaves and other appliances for reuse and recycling. Some retailers, specifically electronics stores, will accept older appliances to reuse the more expensive metals found in their circuits. If your microwave is a newer model, it is more likely that an electronic store will be willing to accept it. Newer microwaves have more electrical components that these retailers will be interested in.
Appliance repair shops may take it off your hands.
When looking for old microwave disposal ideas, also consider trying local appliance repair shops. Even if your microwave is broken, an appliance repair shop may be able to fix and resell it.
If it turns out the microwave is broken beyond repair, an appliance repair shop may still be interested in taking it. They will salvage any parts of the microwave that can be used to repair other appliances and can then properly recycle other components.
Check if your utility company accepts old, inefficient appliances.
As a final option, look into whether your utility company will take your old microwave. Some utility companies have appliance collection programs in place to help their customers get rid of inefficient appliances in favor of replacing them with more energy-efficient models.
Contact your local utility company to inquire about whether they offer such programs. If they do offer an appliance recycling program, the representative you speak with can help you identify what you will need to do to turn in your old microwave. Some utility companies even offer cash incentives or discounts on future bills when you recycle old appliances and replace them with an energy-efficient alternative.
Related: How To: Dispose of Paint Thinner