How To Recycle Old Pots & Pans

This post was most recently updated on February 17th, 2020

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Where do I recycle my old pots and pans? If you are conscious of your footprint on the environment, you may be asking this question. Here is how you can pass them on for another life.

what to do with those old pans, recycling, donating
Where to recycle cookware? Image © Simon Thomas | Dreamstime.com

Can You Donate Old Pots And Pans?

If they are not broken, you could look to give them to another home via sites such as Craigslist and Freecycle. Then there is Salvation Army and Goodwill charity stores to which you can donate them for resale.

Where To Recycle That Old Cookware…

Pyrex Glass

Curbside recycling programs generally don’t accept the Pyrex glass type of cookware. This applies to glass lids of pans also.

The reason is Pyrex contaminates the other recyclable glass because it doesn’t melt at the same temperature. Your best option with these is to pass them onto charity or to another home via the above suggestions.

Ceramic

By ceramic, I mean 100% ceramic cookware. Most people cherish their all-ceramic cookware. But if you need to dispose of it, where can it be recycled? Curbside collections generally don’t accept ceramic items because ceramic does not melt.1

If intact, you can pass ceramic ware on to new homes (see above).

For broken or chipped ceramic pots or pans, these can look great in the garden as a feature and there are plenty of repurposing and upcycling ideas on Pinterest.

The Zero Waste Institute says the best option is to find a way to …”Break the particles apart and return them to the clay that they were made from”.1 

I know broken up pieces placed in the bottom of pot plants make for excellent drainage. This is good as long as the product is 100% ceramic with no lead or other toxins in the glaze. This is not a concern with cookware sold in the US as it must meet strict safety guidelines governing lead content, similar to all food containers.

Metal Cookware

You can check, but most curbside recycling programs don’t accept scrap metal and this means metal cookware.

Recyclers of scrap metals will probably want to know whether your cookware is nonferrous or ferrous.

You should know that your pots and pans contain nonferrous metal if they are made from aluminum, copper or stainless steel. 

For ferrous metal (iron), see if a magnet will stick to them. Cast iron skillets will pass this test. Other cookware with exteriors of stainless steel or another finish may also have a ferrous layer incorporated.

Nonstick Cookware

If you want the best from your nonstick cookware, check out my article on how to prolong the life of a nonstick pan. If your pan has succumbed to scratches and the aluminum is exposed, you might want to replace it (see why in my article on healthy cookware choices). So what do you do with this worn pan?

best to replace nonstick pans once surface is worn
Worn surface exposes food to aluminum

Metal recyclers may or may take nonstick cookware with PTFE, Teflon, coating. Best to check.

To know about the recycling options for nonstick pots and pans in areas of the US, search Earth911’s Recycling Directory.2 

Some companies may have a mail-back program for PTFE-coated or ceramic coated nonstick cookware. For example, GreenPan has been known to offer recycling options.

Repurpose or Upcycle Cookware

Pinterest is one place where you’ll find plenty of ideas for repurposing or upcycling those old pots and pans.

You can use old pots for planting out flowers or herbs or use old skillets in crafting projects to melt plastic beads or the like.

Here’s one neat idea on how to deal with recycling your Teflon pan – upcycle it as a chalkboard.

Just some ideas.

Final Thoughts

Cookware will last much longer when treated with the care and you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, which will also validate your Lifetime Warranty.  If you do need to replace your cookware or dispose of it for some reason, consider the environment and find options to suitably recycle it.

References

  1. Zero Waste Institute, Ceramics, accessed 30 January 2020.
  2. Earth911’s Recycling Directory accessed 30 January 2020. 

Crystal Hodge

Hi, This is Crystal Hodge, a believer in healthy eating starting with the cooking. I'm a seaside-loving mom from the east coast and I love helping people make informed choices about healthy cookware. I'm a wholesome living wannabe. All I wanna do is: Live. Love. Cook. Healthily!

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