Try as we might to do our part for the environment, there always seems to be some ways we can be doing better.
Although you might not realize it, your household appliances come into it more than you think, and not just choosing ones that are water-saving or energy-efficient, either.
When your favorite toaster or an old fridge no longer works the way it should, the way that you get rid of these appliances matters.
Understanding what to do with old appliances so that they’re taken care of the right way, and potentially even recycled and reused, is a major part of being eco-friendly and doing your part for the planet.
So, how do you get rid of old appliances in an environmentally conscious way?
Depending on the type of appliance and the condition of it, your options include donation, recycling, and reusing parts, before you go to the final step of disposing of them somewhere responsibly.
There are lots of options you can consider before throwing it away, and almost all of them have less of a negative environmental impact.
This guide can show you the right way to get rid of your appliances, and which are the most eco-friendly options. With our help, you’ll feel good about where your white-goods are going, and be able to make smarter choices that reduce our impact on the planet, rather than harm it.
- 1 Can You Throw Away Old Appliances?
- 2 How to Safely Dispose of Old Appliances
- 3 The Value of Old Appliances
- 4 Selling Appliances vs Recycling Them
- 5 Where Can You Sell These Appliances?
- 6 The Power of Donation
- 7 The Laws and Regulations on White Goods Disposal
- 8 Making Your Existing Appliances Greener
- 9 Related Questions
Can You Throw Away Old Appliances?
When it’s time to upgrade your appliances, it’s either because the old one is broken or you’re wanted to get a shiny new one.
If your appliance falls into the first camp, it means you’ll have to find the right way to dispose of it, as the chances that someone wants to buy a broken second-hand anything is slim.
However, before you toss it out to the curb in the hopes that it’ll be collected for a hassle-free experience, you should know some things about old appliances.
Fridges, freezers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioners are among the most dangerous to deal with, as they use cooling chemicals, gases, and dangerous liquids that are stored inside and can easily leak out when not handled correctly.
There are other risks to just leaving your old appliances on the side of the road, and mainly for the people who collect them.
Someone could take your old TV thinking that it’s still in good working order but just a little old, and any electrical issues it had could cause a fire that burns down their home, or a door that won’t open or close properly.
Although it seems extreme, it’s quite dangerous to not dispose of old appliances the right way, and the best option is usually to recycle it or find a way to reuse them.
Whether this is donating them to the right place or having someone buy it for parts, it pays to do this responsibility to ensure safety for yourself and others.
How to Safely Dispose of Old Appliances
Although it can be tempting to take the easy route when dealing with old appliances, it’s never recommended.
There are lots of options you can consider to get rid of them that won’t do anyone any harm, will be better for the planet, and might even earn you a bit of cash on the side.
Use a junk hauler
These are professionals who deal with the correct disposal of items like white goods and other appliances.
They know the right way to get rid of them, understand the risks involved, and sometimes will be able to find other ways of using them so that they don’t go completely to waste. Check your local area for these types of services, but be prepared to pay a small fee.
Contact a recycling facility
There might be a recycling program that exists in your town or city, responsible for collecting and recycling larger items like white goods and appliances.
Have a look in the local area to see what’s available and contact the council for information if you can’t find anything. Sometimes these services are free and they will organize pickup from your home, and otherwise, a small cost is incurred.
If your old appliances are still in working order but just don’t fit in the house anymore, you might be able to sell them. There are risks with selling second-hand appliances and some people might want them checked by an electrician to verify their safety.
You’ll have to assess the product you’re selling to see if it’s worthwhile and be upfront with the person buying them about why you’ve got them listed for sale.
There are lots of great organizations out there that would love a dated but working fridge, or a second-hand TV.
If you’re feeling like giving back to the community, you can contact a local shelter or charity to see if they have any use for your second-hand appliances, which they’ll be more than happy to collect them from you.
Have the store take them
If you’ve recently purchased a new item to replace an old one, the store might be able to organize to pick up your unwanted appliances when they drop the new one off.
This sometimes comes with a fee, but they will be able to drop it at a recycling facility or dispose of it properly and save you the hassle of doing it for yourself.
Reuse them for something else
If you have a creative mind and hands, you might be able to use your old appliance for something else.
There are loads of online tutorials for fun things you can make with old box TVs and smaller fridges, like planters and herb gardens, but be sure you’re doing it safely.
The Value of Old Appliances
When you have an appliance that you need to get rid of, but it’s still in working order and good condition, you might consider selling it for some extra cash.
To determine the value of old appliances, the best approach is to look for others being sold that are in similar condition and age, and roughly base your price on that.
Older appliances usually won’t get as much as you’d hope for, as it’s a product that many people like to buy new and with a standing warranty.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a new home for it when it’s in working order, get some cash in your back pocket and save it from landfill for now.
Broken appliances are another story, and not usually worth money unless someone is willing to buy them for parts.
This should be a last resort option though, as simply taking a few parts from a fridge or washing machine still leaves you with a large appliance to get rid of. Where possible, recycling is the best option for these items that no longer work.
Selling Appliances vs Recycling Them
The most common dilemma people face when getting rid of any household item is whether it’s recyclable and whether they can even be bothered recycling them.
Of course, if you’re able to earn some money from the process and sell it to someone who will get more use from it, the easier option would be to do so, but it’s not always so easy to do.
Recycling is a good alternative if you want to get rid of your old appliances, but it’s essential to do it the right way.
The best approach is to find the local recycling facility in your area and find out about their programs, as they likely have a specific process they follow for people wanting to recycle their appliances.
The recycling process for appliances differs depending on what it is, and there are different ways that they break down the products to enable them to use different parts.
For fridges, dishwashers, and dryers, this means removing any hazardous materials like gases and chemicals, and then the steep, plastic, and copper parts separated to be recycled, with the rest being crushed.
For other appliances like televisions, many parts must be broken down and separated before they can be recycled, and this can be a detailed process.
The cathode ray tube (CRT) glass in a TV contains a lot of lead, so it can’t be processed through regular glass recycling facilities. Furthermore, parts like circuit boards must be shredded down and scrap metals melted, so there are a lot of parts to consider.
Where Can You Sell These Appliances?
If you think there’s still some life in your old TV or fridge, selling it might be your preferred option.
Depending on its condition and your location, there are a few options for selling old appliances that might work for you.
If you have a fridge or freezer that no longer works, you might still be able to earn some money selling it for scrap.
There are several companies that collect and pay for a fridge, and you might be able to net $50 for it. Better still, they’ll come to your house and take it away for that price as well, effectively ridding you of the problem.
There are lots of online marketplaces that list second-hand appliances in all conditions.
To get an idea of what yours might sell for, look for comparable products, and be honest and upfront about its current state and working order.
For those who would rather do things in person, you might consider holding a garage sale at home.
This is a good way to get rid of things you no longer use so that someone else can enjoy them, and it saves them from ending up in a landfill. If you’re selling larger appliances specifically, make a point of advertising them so people can bring a truck or trailer to take them away.
The Power of Donation
When you no longer need an appliance and don’t necessarily need the money desperately, you could be doing someone a huge service by donating it.
Provided the appliance in question is still in good working order, and you’re not merely doing it to get it off your hands, donating to someone or an organization in need is not only a good deed for them to benefit from but the planet as well.
If you’re feeling altruistic and would like to donate your goods, there are lots of options to consider. First, you might know someone personally who has been looking for appliances to start a new home or have heard second hand about a family in need.
Although you’re doing the right thing, it can be delicate to approach this type of situation, so make sure to be certain that they’re in need before you offer.
When you don’t know anyone personally who would benefit from a donation, you can find a local nonprofit organization about potential donations.
They likely have specific criteria that items have to meet, especially when it comes to appliances, but if it’s within the realm of what they’re looking for, they can usually arrange someone to pick it up for you.
Finally, there are other online avenues where you can list a fridge or TV for free, using something like The Freecycle Network.
All someone has to do is collect it and it’s theirs, getting it off your hands and making sure it’s used by a person in need, rather than dumping it in a landfill to sit for years to come.
The Laws and Regulations on White Goods Disposal
In the United States, federal law and the Clean Air Act have regulations about what can be disposed of, with refrigerant, PCBs, mercury, and used oil all being of concern.
Due to these laws, it’s imperative to never attempt to dispose of old appliances yourself, but rather use a professional junk hauler or recycling program to do it for you.
The EPA runs a program called Responsible Appliance Disposal, which was launched in 2006 as a way to ensure the collection and disposal of old appliances was done with the best environmental practices in mind.
This program goes above the current law in place and also tries to prevent the second-hand use of appliances that have been disposed of, citing their enormous strain on the energy grid.
Making Your Existing Appliances Greener
Even when your appliances are in good shape, you can still make some changes at home that will make them run more eco-friendly and efficient.
Consider these steps to turn your appliances greener and reduce your impact on the earth:
- Use cold water washes in your washing machine to reduce energy usage.
- Clean out lint filters regularly so the dryer doesn’t have to work as hard, and use a clothesline as often as possible.
- Turn off all appliances at the wall when they’re not in use. TVs can draw a lot of power in standby mode which puts a strain on the energy grid.
- Always fill the dishwasher with a full load before putting it on and use the eco mode setting to save power.
- Keep up with your air conditioner’s maintenance by cleaning filters and having it serviced so that it doesn’t draw excess energy.
When you’re cleaning the house and trying to get rid of unwanted goods, your appliances are usually one of the bulkiest and energy-draining that would make sense to go first.
If you’re planning on getting rid of some old or broken appliances and want to know more about the eco-friendly methods for doing so, check out the answers to our FAQs about the process.
Do I Have to Drain My Fridge Before Dumping It?
If you plan on taking your old refrigerator to the dump, they’ll be able to handle the entire process for you there.
They have trained professionals that know how to drain the coolant and other chemicals from the fridge safely so that it can be disposed of the right way without posing a risk to others.
How Much Energy Does an Old Refrigerator Use?
Rather than hanging onto an old fridge because you don’t want to spend money on a new one, you should be trying to upgrade to a more energy-efficient model that can save you money as well.
Estimates claim an old refrigerator uses up to 1,4000kWh a year, which equates to around $150 in energy bills.
Will Home Depot Take Old Fridges?
When you buy a new fridge from Home Depot, you can usually arrange for them to come and collect your old one at the same time they deliver the new one, which they will then dispose of correctly.
This can usually be done free of charge as well, provided you have informed them about the old fridge and received approval for this to happen.