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The Dos and Don’ts of Appliance Recycling

Recycling and properly disposing of appliances of any size can feel daunting. Dealing with old fridges, coffee makers, irons, and other household appliances are tricky – especially because they are made up of different materials and can’t go in the normal mixed recycling bin.

To help manage old appliances in a sustainable way, we wanted to talk about how to best divert them for reuse and recycling! Whether they’re in working condition and just need a new home, or are no longer usable, we have some ideas for how to best get rid of old appliances.

Photo of old washer and dryer in a basement.

Does it still work? If yes, give it a new home!

The most sustainable product is often the one you already own, so limiting new purchases and putting appliances to reuse is one of the best ways to reduce waste. If you are looking to upgrade to a new appliance, don’t toss out that old one. If it’s in good condition, consider donating it to a local organization or even try selling it online.

Some good places to consider donating to are The Road Home, YWCA, Palmers Court, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and similar organizations. You can find more suggestions on this larger list from our website. It’s best to call ahead to organizations to double-check what goods they accept.  

Consider hosting a virtual yard sale, or even listing your old appliances for free online through Craigslist, KSL, Nextdoor, and other social media apps. 

Don’t forget the other R’s: can it be repaired or repurposed?

Fixing old appliances and other items can help you increase the lifespan of your appliance, and help you learn new skills. If it just needs a new part or some repairs, think about if you can figure out how to fix it, or if a friend or a repair person can help you out. Youtube has a fix-it video for just about anything and Pinterest can help you out with ideas for how to repurpose old appliances.

Once the Utah Recycling Alliance starts running in-person events again, their Fix-It Clinics empower attendees to learn skills, trouble-shoot, and fix issues with different types of appliances. And if it doesn’t get fixed there, they can help narrow down what the issue may be! 

Ok, the appliance is done for. It’s time to recycle! But how? 

Appliances cannot go into Salt Lake City’s blue recycling bin because they are made of different materials that are not easily separated. Appliances often have electronics in them that make it difficult to recycle in our facility. But don’t lose hope – there are still ways to recycle your old appliances!

First, try checking with the company that made the product to see if they offer recycling take-back programs for their products. If that is not an option, it is always a good idea to contact them to ask them to consider doing that in the future. Contacting companies encourages sustainable practices and lets the company know that sustainability is important to their customers.  

Another approach is to contact the retailer where you intend to buy a new appliance to see if they will take back old appliances and recycle or repurpose them. If a take-back program is not feasible, check out Best Buy’s recycling programs. They accept many appliances and electronics for recycling. They have some free options including haul-away programs for certain items. Check out their full list to see what can be accepted. 

Call 2 Haul ad featured as a truck wrap for 2020. The graphic has a cartoon of a TV and a mattress both with cartoon faces. Text reads "Deep Cleaning? Call 2 Haul will carry away many items that don't fit or belong in your bin." The text is white and green on a teal background. There is an SLCGreen logo in the upper right corner that says SLCGreen.com.

Call 2 Haul is here to help!

For certain appliances (and many other materials), use our Call 2 Haul program!

Call 2 Haul is Salt Lake City’s bulk waste collection program. Our program allows residents to call and request one pick up per year for materials that are harder to manage on your own – and some appliances are perfect for us to pick up. We work to dispose of each item as sustainably as possible, recycling what we can, and taking unrecyclable materials for disposal in the landfill. In 2020, Call 2 Haul collected 1,764 tons of materials, which were properly diverted. A total of 146 tons of metal alone was recycled.

These are the appliances we can accept through Call 2 Haul:

  • Refrigerators
  • Any coolant-containing appliances
  • All household appliances like ranges, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, hot water heaters, etc. 
  • Lawnmowers, barbeque grills, etc. (please note: any accompanying propane tanks should be taken to the Household Hazardous Waste drop off).

Check out our Call 2 Haul website for more information on how to sign up additional items that we accept.

If you’re looking to recycle an appliance that is not accepted in the options above, consider what material it is primarily made out of and contact recycling companies that accept that material. This generally works best for metal appliances, such as electric kettles and coffee makers. Oftentimes, these can be recycled as scrap metal by metal recyclers. Check out this list of scrap metal recycling resources from Salt Lake County for ideas of who to contact. 

Old and used electric home waste. Obsolete pc computer, telephone, CRT monitor, DVD.

Wondering about electronics?

While electronics are not necessarily appliances, we know they can be tricky to deal with as well. If you can’t get your electronics fixed, check in with the company the product is from to see if they do any sort of take-back program. Otherwise check with these local programs to see if they recycle the electronics you have:

Interested in more recycling resources? 

Our SLCgreen website has general recycling resources and information for other items that can’t go in our general blue recycling bin, such as textiles, construction materials, styrofoam, and more! Have more questions that aren’t on our website? Email slcgreen@slcgov.com with questions related to recycling or sustainability.

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