What to Do With Old Appliances

When you think of recycling, you probably picture plastic bottles and boxboard. But did you know that it is also important to consider appliance recycling? Many appliances in your home contain heavy metals and toxic chemicals that won’t break down in a landfill and that can pollute the environment.

Below, you will find information about the most common types of appliances that you should consider recycling, as well as information about where you can take your appliances to be recycled.

Temperature Cooling Appliances

Cooling equipment, such as refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners usually contains Freon or other cooling chemicals and insulating foams. These compounds are dangerous if not recycled because they release ozone-depleting substances if left to rot in a landfill.

Most municipalities are required by law to dispose of such appliances. You can contact your local utility provider to learn more about appliance recycling in your area.


Electronics, most commonly televisions and computer monitors, contain materials that are both toxic when disposed of improperly and incredibly easy to reuse once recycled. These materials are mostly precious metals used in electronic devices and flame-retardants.

Many national electronics retailers have programs for accepting old hardware. You might also find that your local recycling center now offers e-waste recycling.


Lighting fixtures themselves are not treated as toxic waste, but fluorescent lamps are because they contain small amounts of mercury. Many states have made it illegal to dispose of fluorescent lamps with regular waste. Luckily, most recycling centers accept fluorescent light bulbs, as well as some large electronics retailers.

Another important note:  if you have a light fixture that was manufactured before 1979, its ballast may contain PCBs that must be recycled. Check out the Lamp Recycle website for more information.