Can Garbage Disposals Be Recycled?

You’ve been meaning to get rid of your garbage disposal for a while now. It’s old and really doesn’t run very well anymore. It may have even just given up the ghost on you, and now you just don’t know what to do with it.

While you can’t recycle your garbage disposal with your curbside recycling, you can still recycle it. Because it is mostly metal, your garbage disposal can be recycled and donated for scrap metal.

There are a lot of options when it comes to recycling, but because recycling can be complicated, you may not know exactly how to or even where to recycle it. Did you know that you can even donate old ones that are running? Perhaps there’s more to recycling your old garbage disposal than you first thought.

Where to recycle

Just because you can’t just drop off your old garbage disposal of in the blue bin you take to the curbside every other week doesn’t mean you shouldn’t recycle it. Most cities have some pick up service or other another way for you to recycle appliances such as garbage disposals. Look to see what the guidelines are for your area.

You can also use the Earth911 recycle locator to find out where you can take your garbage disposal as scrap metal. By typing in what you are looking to recycle and your zip code, they will be able to tell you the closest location that accepts scrap metal. Usually what constitutes as scrap metal is being at least 50% metal. Even if not all of the elements are metal, they can still be donated as such if the majority of it is. The nice thing about this locator is that it’s not just for metal. You can find out about almost anything you might want to recycle and find what locations accept them.

If none of these services are available you can call 1-800-Got-Junk and for a fee based on how much they are picking up, they can take away your garbage disposal for you. This is especially useful if you have more that you would like to get rid of, such as in the case that you are renovating your entire kitchen and want to get rid of your fridge and microwave as well.

What if it still works?

However, if your garbage disposal is still working and you’re just looking to get rid of it or replace it with a newer, better one, you can still donate it to a charity like Salvation Army or the Goodwill. This is better than recycling because it allows for your old disposal to still continue its only purpose in life without ending it short and still allowing you to get a new one. It’s also just better for the environment overall.

If you want to be a bit more creative with your garbage disposal, you can turn your old garbage disposal into a slushie margarita maker. Just be sure to sanitize it well first!

To do this you will need your garbage disposal, a water cooler, various PVC piping, and some plywood. You will also need access to various tools including a drill press, a circle cutter/ circular saw, and a hacksaw. If you don’t have these tools yourself, you’re sure to find a neighbor who would be interested enough to try out this experiment with you and loan you their tools. You can pay them back in drinks.

If you want to pursue this course of action to reuse your disposal, follow the directions of this blog for a step-by-step guide on its construction.

How to uninstall

So now you know what you are going to do with your old garbage disposal. While you could always hire someone to uninstall your disposal, to save yourself some money, you can instead remove it yourself.

If you are a visual learner and need a visual of how to remove the garbage disposal yourself, this youtube video made by HGTV provides a simple step-by-step explanation of how to do so. If you’d rather just read a guide on how to do this, skip the video to the provided list. While the order is slightly different, the general process remains the same.

  1. Before you can even think about removing your garbage disposal, you’re going to need to cut off its power supply by going to your circuit breaker and flipping the switch that controls the power going to that part of your kitchen. You should test that the power is properly turned off by attempting to run the disposal.
  2. Unplug the garbage disposal from the wall or disconnect the wires that have it hardwired into your home.
  3. If you have a dishwasher, you will need to remove the dishwasher hose that is attached to the disposal. You will do this by loosening the hose clamp attached to the dishwasher nipple.
  4. Your next step to detaching your garbage disposal involves disconnecting the pipes from it. Because this may be messy, keep a bucket or towel under the pipes to catch any excess water still remaining in the pipes.
  5. Once the pipes have been detached from the garbage disposal, you are now able to remove the garbage disposal from the sink. Some units have a “snap ring,” whereas others can simply screw off. Be sure to be using one hand to hold up the garbage disposal as you are removing it.
    • You can use a screwdriver under the ring to pry it off.
  6. Now that the disposal is out of the way, you can remove any of the mounting parts that came with it, cleaning up any mess that might be left behind.

You are now free to attach a new garbage disposal to the sink or else reattach the pipes if you have no plans on replacing it with a new one. If you plan on attaching new disposal but don’t have it on hand, it’s probably best if you reattach the pipes in the meantime.

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