Everything You Need to Know About Appliance Recycling

Updated November 2018

We all know them, we all use them, we all love them. But what happens when your favorite appliance stops working? What do you do when your freezer doesn’t freeze, your toaster doesn’t toast, your washer doesn’t wash? Do you throw them in the trash? You should instead consider a more eco-friendly alternative for disposal, like appliance recycling!

Appliance Recycling

Appliance Disposal: What Happens When…

…You Throw Them Away

When you see abandoned appliances lying on the curb waiting for the dump truck, their final resting place is in a landfill. Appliance disposal in a landfill takes up a lot of space, increasing it’s unsightly and unhealthy size. Additionally, because appliances are not biodegradable, with some containing hazardous materials like chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), mercury, and lead, they risk contaminating the soil and atmosphere.

Fortunately, many states have landfill bans that make it very difficult to dump appliances into landfills. This encourages better appliance disposal methods.

… You Reuse Them

Reusing is generally not an option for appliances that have a lot of issues. Often, replacement parts are expensive or hard to find. It’s also a tough call to figure out how much money to invest in an appliance that might break again soon. But if your appliance still works, try donating it first. There are many charities like the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity that will gladly accept old working appliances and will donate them to people in need.

…You Recycle Them

Appliance recycling is the most popular option when it comes to dealing with broken appliances. According to the Steel Recycling Institute, appliances contain at least 60% recyclable steel. In fact, the steel used in appliances is already made of 25% recycled steel. This means that most appliances contain recycled steel which can then be recycled again!

Besides steel, materials in appliances like glass, plastic, refrigerants, oils and other metals can be salvaged and reused. However, some appliances also contain toxic CFCs and PCBs. Trained technicians must recover these toxins using EPA-certified equipment before being safely disposed of.

After collection, appliances are separated into individual components (copper tubing, wiring, motors, compressors) for recycling. Once those components are removed, the leftover metal gets sent to a metal shredding facility. From here, qualified scrap metal goes to mills and converted to steel. This process uses 74% less energy than making steel from virgin iron ore!

Appliance Recycling with GreenCitizen

We offer appliance recycling in San Francisco at our Burlingame EcoCenter. Bay area residents can drop off their old appliances or businesses can choose our easy appliance pickup option.

From there, all appliances go to the Onsite Electronics facility, in Stockton, California, about 86 miles from San Francisco. Onsite Electronics is a California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) Certified Recycler. This means there are technicians on site that specifically handle hazardous materials found in appliances. Once appliances arrive, they undergo the same basic recycling process described above.

Appliance recycling is just one of the categories of electronic recycling at GreenCitizen. In fact, we take anything that plugs in the wall or runs on a battery. We refurbish and reuse everything we can and recycle the rest, all within 150 miles of the Bay area.

Never ask the questions, “where to recycle printers” or “where to recycle my microwave” again. We’ll take them off your hands while being environmentally conscious. Build a better, more green world with us today!

If you have any questions about appliance recycling or disposal, give us a call at (650) 493-8700.

2 Comments on “Everything You Need to Know About Appliance Recycling

    Hi Lily,

    You can bring batteries into any of our centers. You can also search earth911.com for locations nearest to you that recycle batteries. Make sure to call ahead; sometimes earth911 is not always the most up to date.



    Great article! I’ve been thinking about recycling some of my old scrap metal because they pay you! I didn’t know that you could recycle appliances. I’ll be sure to look in my kitchen and garage—I’m sure I have some extra things that I’m not using! What’s your recommendation with batteries? Thanks for sharing this article with us. 🙂

    Lily de Grey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *