Reuse, recycle, save energy– These ideas are ones many of us try to do daily. There is one way we may not have thought of before- disposing of an old appliance properly. Appliance Recycling Centers of America estimates that 55 million appliances will be removed from service this year. If yours is one of them, be aware that nearly 20 states ban appliances from being disposed of in landfills, and more than 15 other states require that landfills separate appliances for recycling. Some states, like Minnesota and California, require that a variety of hazardous materials be removed from appliances before the metals are recycled.
There are more than 11,000 appliance recycling locations throughout the United States. Unfortunately, many of these locations do not process appliances thoroughly before recycling the metals. Older appliances can contain environmentally harmful materials such as mercury and PCBs. These substances must be removed and managed properly before recycling an appliance. Ask your city, waste hauler or recycling location for a description of the hazardous materials they remove from appliances and how they dispose of them.
Another option is to donate your old washer, fridge or dishwasher to a local occupational school. Many schools use these old appliances for instruction and practice. When the students are finished the appliance is recycled. Or even better, it will have been refurbished and will go on to serve an underprivileged family or sold to help the school.
Doing the right thing can take a bit if extra thought, but it can feel good too.