The Green Guide to Recycling Appliances and Electronics

Recycling is an excellent way to re-use things and to help keep the planet clean. By recycling, we can preserve our natural environment and cut down on excessive waste. When recycling large appliances or electronics, there are certain guidelines that should be followed. These items can sometimes contain harmful elements that, if disposed of improperly, can cause a serious problem with the ground or water. It is also important to note that both appliances and electronics can usually be recycled in a safe and efficient manner, and if they are not recycled, they can cause clutter, trash, and waste that can be extremely harmful to our planet earth.


Kitchen appliances are often thrown out onto the curb for the garbage collectors to pick up. From there, they go to a landfill where they rust, and expel harmful waste into the environment. Since appliances are not biodegradable, they just sit and take up space. Large appliances like refrigerators, stoves, freezers, washers, and dryers can all be easily recycled. It is important to pay attention to your individual state's guidelines when it comes to recycling these items. A good place to start is to contact local charities such as the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, or local battered women's shelters. All of these places will gladly accept used appliances, if they are still in working order.

Other appliances that can be recycled include microwaves, garbage disposals, dishwashers, and air conditioners. If they are still working, consider making a donation of these items to places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. They can often re-sell them, with the profits going towards the charity. It is very important to note that items like freezers and refrigerators as well as certain air conditioners contain CFCs, which can be harmful to the environment. Under the Clean Air Act, certain procedures must be followed when disposing of or recycling these items. Most local cities have a pick up service that will come take these types of appliances for recycling.

Many appliances that no longer work can still be used for scrap metal. A process is completed that removes any harmful elements and iron from the appliance, and then the body or case can be re-used. Construction companies can often use these appliances and re-purpose them for various uses. This is another good option for recycling appliances. It is always advised to try and donate any appliances that are still working to charities. For those that are not in working order, donating them for scrap metal is definitely a good alternative.

  • Environmental Concerns – The EPA explains some of the concerns if appliances are not recycled properly.
  • ARCA – Home page for the Appliance Recycling Centers of America.
  • Recycle Used Appliances – Some helpful tips to get you motivated to recycle those used appliances.
  • Washers & Dryers – Ideas for recycling these large appliances can be found here.
  • GE Appliance Donation Center – GE has a helpful page with resources and suggestions for appliance donation.


Much like appliances, electronics can be recycled in most cases. Computer monitors contain harmful elements like mercury, lead, cadmium, and other substances that can be extremely harmful to the ground and water supply if they are disposed of improperly. Newer television models also contain some of these harmful elements. Electronics that are still working can make excellent donation opportunities for local schools and churches. Since many schools need as much financial help as possible, older computers and televisions can really come in handy. It's also important to note that donations are tax deductible, so this makes donating them even better.

Stereos, old copiers and fax machines, and broken or unused cell phones are also recyclable. There are some programs in the works that will take old cell phones, refurbish them, and send them to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Stores like Best Buy will take older electronics and make sure that they are recycled in the proper manner. Companies like Canon, Epson, Apple, Nokia, Lexmark, and Sony, to name a few, all have corporate electronic recycling programs. In many cases, these companies can either refurbish and re-sell the item, or use the spare parts in some way. It is always best to try to recycle electronics so that they do not sit in a landfill or cause other types of environmental problems.

Many local towns and cities hold annual or semi-annual drives in which people can voluntarily donate their old electronics. Computers are often on the wanted list. Many times there will be community gatherings where locals can get together, donate their old items, and discuss new ways to use them. Just about every area in the United States now has some kind of recycling program where people can give up their old appliances or electronics so they can help to preserve our environment and help others. Think about recycling the next time you break a copy machine, your cell phone goes bad, or your computer needs to be upgraded. By doing this, you can lend a hand to someone in need, and help keep our world cleaner.

  • Recycling Locations – Use this easy guide to find places in your local area that can recycle electronics.
  • Corporate Recycle Programs – Lists some major corporations and links to their individual recycling programs.
  • Resources – This site is an excellent place to start looking for electronic recycling programs, tips, and other important information.
  • How Electronics are Recycled – Information about the process of recycling electronics.
  • Greener Choices – In-depth information about recycling various types of electronics.

It is up to each and every one of us to decide what kind of world we will leave behind for our children, and recycling is a great way to set a good example and ensure that less waste is filling up our world. By recycling appliances and electronics, there is an opportunity to create a new, sustainable environment and be able to help others along the way. Local programs and charitable donations are both simple, easy ways to ensure that these items get disposed of properly, and sent somewhere that they will be appreciated.

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