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How to Dispose of Your Microwave Oven

Time to ditch your appliance? Here’s how to dispose of your microwave simply and responsibly

Microwave ovens have been a staple appliance in homes across the US because of their ability to whip up speedy meals, revive leftovers in a flash, and complete other niche tasks. However, with the focus on health seeing a trend towards home cooking with fresh ingredients, sales of microwaves have either declined or remained flat across the past decade. This leaves many inactive, and potentially broken down, microwaves in need of disposing.

Read on to discover the simplest and safest methods to dispose of your old microwave. If you’re unsure whether or not it’s time to ditch your microwave, we’ve also included a list of potential faults that may necessitate the need to get rid of it.

Where can you dispose of your microwave?

If your microwave has stopped working, you’ve upgraded to a new model, or it’s simply gathering dust in the corner of your kitchen, no longer being used, then you’ll need to dispose of it – but it’s important to do so responsibly.

Sending electronic goods such as microwaves, laptops, cell phones, and televisions to landfill creates 50 million tons of e-waste every year worldwide – and that number is predicted to increase year on year.

So, dumping your microwave on the curb not only contributes to waste and landfill, it’s also environmentally dangerous due to the presence of toxic chemicals such as mercury and cadmium present in e-waste. In fact, most garbage collection services in the US won’t even allow you to dispose of e-waste items in your regular trash and recycling pick-ups, so you’ll almost certainly need to find an alternative. Here are some viable options:

1. Sell or donate your microwave – If your microwave is still in good working order, and you’re simply getting rid of it because of lack of use and to free up space, then selling or donating it is a quick and easy solution. Local social media groups and online markets are good places to start for advertising and selling used goods. You could also consider donating your microwave to a charitable organization, a local community center, or an electronic repair shop, which could use the parts to restore a number of microwave ovens.

2. Take your microwave to an electronic waste recycling center – E-waste recycling centers are the correct places at which to dispose of a microwave in an environmentally friendly way. These centers will salvage the usable and recyclable parts of your microwave, while safely dealing with any hazardous waste in the appliance. Just make sure you reach out to your local recycling center to check if they can process e-waste, before packing up your microwave.

3. Check if your microwave’s manufacturer has a take-back program – It’s not always “no takesies backsies”. Some microwave manufacturers offer take-back programs, and will accept your microwave in order to reuse and recycle its parts. Similarly, for those buying a new microwave, some manufacturers and sellers – Best Buy, for example – offer trade-in options, wherein they will collect your old model and may even offer a discount on your new appliance in return.

When should you get rid of your microwave?

If your microwave has stopped working completely, then you’ll obviously want to dispose of it. However, if the appliance is still technically functional, and you’re not sure whether or not its time is up, here are some questions to ask.

Is it cooking food properly?

If your microwave is heating food too slowly or leaving cold spots, then it’s falling short of delivering the convenience it was designed for. The likelihood is that it’s a result of some faulty internal components. In this case, despite the fact it’s still working to some degree, it’s probably best to dispose of it and seek out a replacement.

Is the door seal intact?

If the microwave’s door isn’t closing quite right, or you can feel heat escaping, it’s probably because the door seal is breached. This can cause a number of problems. It can prevent your food from cooking all the way through; stop the microwave from shutting off correctly; or even allow the microwave’s radiation to leak out in greater amounts than is recommended. Again, the best thing would be to replace it.

Does it smell and sound normal during operation?

If you smell burning, smoke, or other nasty odors during operation, then you should unplug your microwave and immediately dispose of it. If the noise rises beyond a gentle hum during use, and you hear rattling or buzzing sounds, you should check that its glass plate is sitting correctly and no food is blocking any part of the interior. If all its parts look clear yet the noise persists, it’s probably time to replace your appliance.

Is it more than ten years old?

Most microwaves are built to last for approximately ten years. If your microwave is more than a decade old, it’s likely to be out of date technologically. Furthermore, beyond ten years, a microwave that hasn’t been well maintained is more likely to leak greater radiation than a brand-new model. While this non-ionising radiation is relatively harmless, it’s still best to avoid long-term exposure from a faulty machine.

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