How to Keep Old Appliances Out of the Landfill

When it's time to replace a broken or outdated refrigerator or oven, don't just kick it to the curb. Instead, try one of these environmentally friendly ways to dispose of old appliances.

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Even high-end appliances will eventually putter out. When your old refrigerator or dishwasher dies, what do you do with it? What about a working model you no longer want because it's an energy hog or downright ugly?

Before you haul your old refrigerator or deep-freeze to the landfill, consider this: These machines can contain hazardous materials and gases, including mercury, which can damage the environment. What's more, many municipalities have strict guidelines for their disposal, and improperly disposing of an appliance can carry a big fine. 

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Rather than simply lugging an old stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, air conditioner, or laundry machine to the curb and hoping for the best, responsible homeowners can safely and properly dispose of broken or outdated appliances by selling, donating, or recycling them.

SELL

If your appliance is in working order but no longer up to your standards, try selling it to someone who might appreciate it exactly as it is. If you're not sure what to charge, search Craigslist or your local newspaper's classifieds for similar items before placing an ad, touting it on Facebook, or holding a yard sale. You can also try selling it to a used appliance shop or to a repair shop for parts (the latter may be interested even if the appliance is broken). Another option for making a little money is to sell a functioning or nonfunctioning machine for scrap metal. Before handing over your appliance to a scrap metal yard or metal recycler, make sure they will legally dispose of parts they don't use. Depending on the age and condition of your appliance, you may not find a paying customer. Listing it on Freecycle may turn up someone willing to take it for free, saving you the expense of paying a company to haul it away.

DONATE

Although not cash in hand, donating an appliance to charity can net you a tax deduction of $20 to $250, depending on condition and quality. Keep in mind most charities only accept items that are clean and in working condition. Some also require appliances be of a certain age; find the age of your machine using the Appliance 411 Date Code Search Service. Find a donation site by checking with your church or nonprofit organizations like Goodwill, Salvation Army, or the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Ask whether the group will pick the item up at your home or whether you'll need to drop it off at their site. Also, don't forget to get a donation receipt for tax purposes.

RECYCLE

No one else wants your old appliance? Keep it out of the landfill by recycling it using one of these options:

• Contact the manufacturer to see if the company runs a recycling program.

• Buy a new appliance. Many retailers will recycle your old hunk of metal when you buy a shiny new machine from them; some even haul it away at no cost when they deliver your new appliance.

• Ask whether your utility department offers a "bounty" program, which provides cash or a discount on your energy bill when you buy an energy-saving appliance and turn in your old model for recycling

• Ask your local waste management or public works departments to pick up and recycle the appliance. Some cities charge for this service and others may require that you first remove refrigerants or compressors. If this is the case, you'll need to hire a certified technician to handle this extremely dangerous task; your municipality can likely recommend someone.

For more information on safely recycling appliances, visit the EPA's Responsible Appliance Disposal site.

Innovation in the Kitchen

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In the market for a new refrigerator? Check out this Buying Guide

Remodeling? Get the FREE Kitchen Planning Guide here.

Learn what to look for when buying appliances with eco-friendly features. 

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