How to dispose of an old microwave: 6 super-simple solutions

Written by Jason Hutchinson
6 Min read

Sometimes it’s difficult to lose your old microwave

If your trusty kitchen appliance has heated its last pizza pocket, you’ll now be faced with the tricky question; how to dispose of your old microwave?

It may not seem like a big issue. But throwing away your old microwave can pose something of a challenge as, generally speaking, you can’t just pop it in the rubbish and hope it gets collected. Well, you could, but you may face a fine.

There’s no need for all headaches, though. In this blog, we’ll tell you more about why exactly you can’t just throw it away. But we’ll also talk you through six simple ways you can get rid of your old microwave.

So, why can’t you just dispose of your old microwave?

Can you put an old microwave in the rubbish bin?

As we said above because an old microwave is classed as e-waste, while some states will still allow you to just toss your old machine in the dumpster, most now have laws against this. In fact, 22 states have mandatory landfill bans

Having said that, you can apply for special permission from your local county or city Governor’s office to dispose of the old microwave in your dumpster. However, there may still be costs involved. Plus, there are environmental issues to wrestle with. 

E-waste is a general term to mean home and business electronic equipment which is no longer used or needed. Broken microwaves and other electrical household appliances are made up of various materials, including hazardous elements like cadmium, lead, and mercury. 

When old appliances like microwaves are tossed into landfill sites and buried, they can start to leak these hazardous chemicals into the soil, causing a laundry list of environmental issues. Disgusting water collects at the bottom of landfill sites, and these harmful chemicals can find their way into this putrid ooze in a process known as leeching. This can then start tracking to nearby water sources and pollute any natural wells in the area. 

So, if you can’t throw it in the bin, what are you supposed to do when it comes to throwing away an old microwave?

 6 ways to dispose of an old microwave

  • Take it to your local recycling centre
  • Try to sell it
  • Donate it to charity or a local thrift store
  • Arrange a bulk rubbish collection
  • Take back systems at your local electronic store
  • Attempt to repair it

Take it to the local recycling centre

Your old microwave may not be able to go in the bin, but it can be recycled. Although, a simple search intent of “recycle microwave near me” may not provide all the answers. 

Because each state has its own laws and statutes when it comes to recycling your machine, sometimes finding the right info can be a challenge. However, one piece of legislation passed by Barack Obama way back in 2011 placed more emphasis on America’s growing e-waste issue.

Now, there are recycling centres across the country that will take your old microwave. At these centres, metal and other materials from electricals are extracted and repurposed wherever possible. These elements will then go on to be used in everything from playground equipment to life-saving defibrillators.

man walking in front of electrical store

Try to sell

As we’re all being urged to reduce, reuse and recycle everything from our electronics to unwanted clothing at the moment, you might look to give your old microwave a new home somewhere else.

Generally, most household appliances have a lifespan of 10-15 years, so sell it if it’s still in decent condition.

The best possible outcome is to sell your microwave locally. This will mean you don’t have to swallow expensive delivery costs. Because the appliance is a bulky item, which features glass, you may be required to pay extra for special delivery.

However, if a local sale isn’t possible, you can utilize sites like Facebook MarketplaceCraigslistGumtree, and eBay to help you find it another happy home.

Donate to charity or thrift stores

Again, if your machine hasn’t quite given up just yet, you might be best trying to donate rather than sell. The best part is, that you can do whatever is local to you. If you don’t have a charity centre or store near to you, most second-hand stores will also donate unwanted equipment.

Previously, donating an old microwave or other electricals was something of a hassle. But, in the words of Bob Dylan, “the times they are a-changin’…” and now many charities accept these items.

Broadly speaking, the below organizations do accept electricals. However, it’s definitely worth doing your own research when it comes to rules for the store in your area.

  • Habitat ReStore
  • Salvation Army
  • Goodwill Industries
  • Churches

Failing all those places, you could always check with your friends to see if anyone wants to take it. Often late summer can be a good time to offload unwanted electricals like microwaves when people start heading off to college and have houses, flats, or dorms to furnish.

Arrange a bulk trash collection

By now you may be thinking: “This is all well and good, but how do I dispose of a large microwave?” Well, a great option is to get the professionals involved.

If you’re not in a rush to get rid of your machine or you have the capacity to store it somewhere, safely, calling in a waste disposal company could be a sensible option. It may end up costing you a little extra, but at least it will mean you can get rid of that broken microwave without the hassle.

In addition, you could also check out local power or utility companies. Most of the time these businesses will take old or unused microwaves off you, with no problem.

Local electrical stores

Many people don’t know about this function, but, some electrical stores will take your old machines and recycle the components for you.

Most microwaves and other appliances have some pretty high-functioning circuitry inside, this is what stores will be interested in reusing. Even if your machine’s exterior is a little messed up, chances are the circuit board will still be good. 

Stores like Best Buy also offer a recycling scheme. Previously, the tech giant didn’t accept microwaves in their recycling option due to issues surrounding radiation on older machines. But they are now accepting most models and, the best part is, you can even replace your machine in-store. 

Additionally, check out the brand. If you bought your microwave from a leading manufacturer, you may be able to send it back to them free of charge. The same as electrical stores are interested in reusing old circuit boards, so too are the big manufacturers. In fact, some will even pay the expensive delivery costs, so it’s definitely worth checking before you go trying to find your local store that accepts old beat-up machines. 

Attempt to repair it

Having said all of the above, do you really need to get rid of your microwave or can it be repaired? 

At Appliances Made Simple, we’re all about trying to repair old tech rather than just moving straight to replacements. 

Our team can offer advice and guidance when it comes to repairing your old machine. If, indeed, they are salvageable.

On the other hand, you could always try YouTube. If you’re handy with your DIY and you know what’s wrong with your microwave, can you search for a microwave repair video on there?

Although, if you’re not sure, it’s always best to either get a professional involved or just recycle. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you put a microwave in the rubbish bin?

No. Because microwaves are made up of a range of different materials and old machines can include hazardous materials, they need to be disposed of in specialist areas like recycling centres or returned to manufacturers/electrical stores

Does Best Buy accept microwaves?

Yes, Best Buy does accept a range of old electricals for recycling, including microwaves. In fact, they are the largest retail collector of e-waste in the United States.

How do I dispose of a large microwave?

If it’s small enough to carry, then you can discard your large microwave in recycling centre. Or it may be worth calling a local professional waste removal company.

What do you do with an old microwave?

When it comes to old electricals like a microwave, you can either sell, donate, recycle, replace or repair. Electrical stores will accept unwanted or broken electricals free of charge, either at designated drop-off areas or in-store when you purchase a replacement.

Appliances made simple. 

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