Home » Reuse Ideas » What To Do with Old Microwave – E-Waste Guide

What To Do with Old Microwave – E-Waste Guide

If you’re like many households around the world, you have an old microwave gathering dust in a corner or occupying precious space in your garage. You’re likely wondering, “What can I do with my old microwave?”

E-waste is rapidly becoming a global problem and If you’ve never read a book or watched a documentary about the world’s waste problem, you should.

It’s absolutely horrifying, About 50 million metric tons of e-waste is produced each year in different countries of the world but only 17% of it is actually recycled.

TL;DR: The responsible disposal of an old microwave is crucial for the environment. This can involve recycling, donation, upcycling, or selling. The best method depends on the microwave’s condition and your local recycling facilities. If your old microwave is still in working condition, consider donating it to a local charity or selling it online.

Understanding the Impact of Microwaves on the Environment

I recommend taking a moment to consider the environmental impact of microwaves. According to a study by the University of Manchester, the carbon dioxide emissions from microwaves across the EU alone are equivalent to nearly seven million cars.

The energy consumption of microwaves is significant and disposing of them irresponsibly can be damaging to our environment.

Recycling Your Microwave

Recycling should be your first consideration when deciding what to do with an old microwave. Many parts of a microwave, such as the glass plate, metal, and certain electronic components, can be recycled.

Steps for Recycling Your Microwave:

  1. Contact your local waste facility: Your town or city’s waste facility may accept microwaves for recycling.
  2. Visit a specialized electronics recycler: If your local waste facility doesn’t accept microwaves, look for electronics recycling programs.
  3. Reach out to the manufacturer: Some microwave manufacturers have take-back programs, accepting their products for recycling.

Donating Your Microwave

If your microwave is in working order, a useful suggestion would be to donate it. Various charities, thrift stores, or community centers could benefit from your donation.

Selling Your Microwave

Selling your old microwave is another viable option if it’s still in good working condition. Platforms like eBay, Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace are great places to start.

Upcycling Your Microwave

A more creative route is to upcycle your microwave. It might be worthwhile to consider this if you’re crafty or enjoy DIY projects.

Here’s a fun idea:

Transform Your Microwave into a Storage Box:

  1. Clean the microwave thoroughly
  2. Remove the electrical components
  3. Decorate as desired
  4. Use as a unique storage box

Note: Upcycling should be approached with caution, as microwaves contain parts that can be hazardous if not handled properly.

Specific Organizations Accepting Microwave Donations

If your microwave is still functional, consider donating it to organizations that can use it. The Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nationwide organizations in the U.S. that typically accept working appliances.

Before dropping off your microwave, it would be best to call ahead and confirm they accept these items.

Retailer Take-Back Programs

Many electronics retailers recognize the need for responsible appliance disposal and offer take-back programs. Companies like Best Buy in the U.S., Currys in the U.K., and Officeworks in Australia offer drop-off locations or pickup services for old appliances, including microwaves.

What Are the Electronic Waste and Recycling Statistics

The improper disposal of electronic waste, including microwaves, has a significant environmental impact. According to a 2019 report from the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership, only 17.4% of e-waste was officially documented as properly collected and recycled.

Furthermore, the UN estimates that e-waste is likely to exceed 52.2 million metric tons by 2021. These statistics underscore the importance of responsible microwave disposal.

Repairing Your Microwave

Before discarding or repurposing your old microwave, consider whether repair is an option. Common issues like faulty doors, inconsistent heating, or a failing motor may be fixable by a professional.

Repairing extends the life of your microwave and keeps it out of landfill a bit longer.

Handling Microwave Hazards

Microwaves contain components that can be hazardous if not handled properly. For instance, the magnetron generates the microwaves, and it contains beryllium oxide, which can be harmful if crushed and inhaled.

Therefore, if you’re considering dismantling a microwave for any reason, always wear gloves, safety glasses, and a mask, and consult with a professional if you’re unsure about anything.

Repurposing Microwave Parts

Lastly, if you’re mechanically inclined, you may be interested in repurposing parts of your microwave. For example, the high voltage transformer can be used to create a makeshift spot welder, and the large capacitor can be used in various electronics projects. However, these components can be extremely dangerous if not handled correctly, so this route is only recommended for those with a solid understanding of electronic safety.

It’s clear there’s more to do with an old microwave than simply throwing it away. By considering these additional options and information, you can make a responsible, environmentally friendly choice and possibly find a new purpose for your old appliance.

Remember, the small actions we take today can lead to substantial positive impacts on our environment tomorrow.

Important Reminders

As we explore these options, it’s important to remember that microwaves contain hazardous components. The improper disposal of microwaves can lead to harmful substances like lead and chromium seeping into the ground.

Always handle old microwaves with care and consult with professionals when necessary.


Deciding what to do with an old microwave is more than a matter of convenience. It’s about making a responsible choice for our environment. By recycling, donating, selling, or upcycling, you’re reducing waste and potentially giving your old appliance a new lease on life.


Is it safe to dismantle my old microwave for upcycling?

While it’s possible to dismantle a microwave for upcycling, this should be done with caution. If you’re unsure, it’s best to consult with a professional.

Can I just leave my old microwave on the curb for collection?

This largely depends on your local waste disposal regulations. It’s best to call your local waste facility for advice.

What parts of a microwave can be recycled?

Many parts of a microwave can be recycled, including metal, glass, and certain electronic components. However, some parts, such as the magnetron, can be hazardous and must be disposed of properly.


  • Jen Wheeler

    Jen Wheeler, co-founder of Recycling-Revolution.com, holds degrees from UC Berkeley, Yale, and Stanford. A renowned environmentalist, she's championed sustainable practices at global events and leads EcoBright Solutions, focusing on recycling education and eco-friendly products.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!