Let’s say your microwave has ended up busted. How should you go about disposing of it? Especially if you live in California, home of the green or ecological laws when it comes to disposal! In many other states in the United States, you can just hand over your appliance to the garbage man or the nearest junker.
Otherwise, you might end up putting the overgrown paperweight at your garage or attic, gathering dust, and taking up precious storage space.
How to Dispose of a Microwave in California
If you have a small programmable appliance such as coffee pots, bread makers, and microwave ovens, you can’t place them in your trash or recycling container. You should go to what’s known as an appliance recycler to recycle these appliances and their electronic waste (e-waste) components.
To be more specific, any device with heavy metals and circuit boards about the size of a microwave oven (or is a microwave oven) should only be disposed of care of the appliance recycler instead of throwing away willy-nilly in the dumpster for the garbage man to sort out.
This rule specifically applies to San Diego but is also followed by all cities within the State of California as a statewide appliance disposal law.
E-Waste Shouldn’t Be Disposed of in the Landfill
If your microwave ain’t working then it’s e-waste and shouldn’t be disposed of in a landfill. Electronics should be junked properly the same way you call junkers or a towing agency in order to get rid of a totaled car wreck. You can’t just trash it in the dumpster!
To be more specific, go find the directory of Approved Participating Collectors and Recyclers—the aforementioned appliance recyclers—for proper disposal options. It might differ from county to county in California, so you might as well research your specific rules for your specific county.
Ask the Garbage Man or Trash Collector about It
The local agency responsible for collecting your garbage should also inform you of your options with their own suggestions. For example, ask your trash collector what to do with microwave disposal and he might name a company or an address to your local appliance recycler.
If the website of your trash collector has no FAQ in regards to this specific question then just call them and ask them directly for more details. They could at least push you in the right direction.
Californian Microwave Disposal Rules Before the 2000s
Before the Turn of the Millennium, when Y2K was hitting its stride, e-waste and other appliances used to end up in landfills if not pawned off to the nearest junkyard. Because recycling has evolved since then, most appliances get dismantled or broken down to separate its many components.
You’ll have the microwave’s plastics, metals, glass, and so forth removed and put into the correct piles to know which ones are e-waste and which ones could be used for recycling. The appliance recycler helps streamline this process by taking away the appliance from you and worrying about the details.
They’re the ones who’ll have the device’s many parts disassembled and turned into base materials or resources that can be recycled, reused, and so forth in the process of manufacturing new products.
The Freecycle Network Community
Place a post on the Freecycle Network community in your area. Afterwards, someone from the community should end up taking the device regardless if it’s working or not. They might repair it if required. This method allows the oven to get a second life instead of being crushed by the compactor.
Although the government classifies microwaves as universal waste they include e-waste components. You can have them taken for a fee or you can disassemble the device then put it in your recycle bin except for the e-waste portions.
Most people find the appliance recycler method the least cumbersome method of disposal for a microwave. Like how you can’t simply throw away your computer to the trash bin. You need someone to junk it properly.
If It’s Working You Should Give It Away or Sell It
The Freecycle Network allows your microwave to end up as a second-hand appliance to someone else as charity. If your microwave still functions and you merely want to replace it with a new microwave oven that has less mileage than it, you can sell or pawn it away instead.
A pawn shop can give you money for your working microwave but expect them to haggle for the cheapest price possible. At least with Craiglist, eBay, GumTree, and other online or e-classified ads, you can name your price and have others agree to buy it off from you at your desired value.
How About the Thrift Store or a Yard Sale?
You can also donate your microwave to a local thrift store if it’s still working. If it’s not, the thrift store won’t take it. A microwave that doesn’t work is basically junk anyway.
A yard sale serves as the old-fashioned way of getting rid of unwanted items in your home while still earning money on the side with neighbors or passersby buying it off from you. When donating to charity, ask them if they take microwave ovens first (they might not).
The Appliance Recycler, Junkyard, or Transfer Station
When push comes to shove, a non-functioning microwave should end up in an appliance recycler or transfer station in order to take care of its disassembly. They’ll be looking for metal parts they could scrap out of it while discarding the rest.
Some of the metal could be recycled or melted. The plastic parts could be destroyed and turned into some other item, like bricks or building blocks made entirely of non-disposable trash. Such stations have stockpiles of old microwaves, ovens, and freezers around.
To Sum Up
The microwave oven runs on microwaves or a type of radiowave. If its magnetron stops function, it ends up as ordinary electronic waste.
Sure, when comparing these ovens to old CRT televisions or desktop computers, they’re way less toxic. However, they’re still scrap that requires no special handling. Regardless, just put it in the scrap heap of your local appliance recycler so as to avoid getting fined by placing it in the dumpster or trash bin.
Californian garbage men will tell you to go to the recycler anyway and won’t take the microwave with them, especially if it’s non-functioning electronics.
- “How do I dispose of a microwave?“, Quora.com, August 21, 2020
- “Where can I recycle a microwave in California?“, Quora.com, August 31, 2016
- “Appliance, Electronics and Universal Waste – City of San Diego“, SanDiego.gov, Retrieved October 4, 2021