In addition to recycling at local centers or via metal dealers, here are three other ways you can make sure used cookware stays out of landfills and finds a new home. If you're unable to find a metal scrapyard or donate the item, Hoover says there's one last option for you, and it happens to be the most convenient.
“Terrace is an organization that specializes in accepting and repurposing hard to recycle materials; things like potato chip bags and sandwich bags, things that are not normally accepted for recycling at the community level,” she says. Prices start at $109 and that cost includes return shipping and processing of whatever you send to be recycled (they do not accept electronics).
And Hoover says that Terrace really does upcycle-materials are sorted and repurposed into everyday products, like benches and watering cans, instead of being sent to landfills. The scrap App was able to help out with a recent article about recycling pots and pans Earth911.
A quick internet search reveals there’s a lot of confusion surrounding whether nonstick pans can be recycled. So, to demystify this issue, we’ll provide some clarification about what exactly a nonstick pan is made of and how you can determine how to recycle it.
You may find your local curbside program doesn’t collect unusual materials like pots and pans, but don’t fret. Visit Earth911.org/recycling and search for “scrap metal” recycling near your house.
Before you bring your items in for recycling, consider donating them to a thrift shop or giving them away on Free cycle or Craigslist. What you see as old, worn out pots and pans might be just what a college student needs for their dorm.
If some are no longer appropriate for cooking or you simply want to clear out the clutter and treat yourself to a new set of pots and pans, don’t just throw the old ones away. If you have some old cookware that is still useful for heating up food, but you ignore it in favor of using newer items, pack the pots and pans away with your camping equipment.
Before you get rid of that old pot, consider painting it in fun Halloween colors and use it this year to hold the candy for the trick or theaters. Get the kids involved in the art project and allow them to use a variety of paintbrushes and plenty of orange and black paint to make a unique Halloween candy holder.
Iron skillets you no longer cook with can be hung over the stove or on a wall to add to your kitchen decor. A large pot placed on a baker’s rack can hold your many spatulas, oven mitts and wooden spoons.
A smaller pot with the handle removed can be kept under the sink to hold extra bottles of dish washing liquid and sponges. Line the pot with pretty dishtowels and fill it with cookbooks, spices and large kitchen utensils for a fun housewarming gift.
Churches and women’s shelters are often low on funds to fully stock their kitchens and replace cookware that is long past their prime. A quick internet search reveals there’s a lot of confusion surrounding whether nonstick pans can be recycled.
So, to demystify this issue, we’ll provide some clarification about what exactly a nonstick pan is made of and how you can determine how to recycle it. To keep food from sticking to these metals, manufacturers add a layer of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is a compound with a low coefficient of friction, meaning other objects will easily slide by it.
This coating can have multiple layers to ensure the nonstick surface is durable. While this nonstick coating makes cooking easier, if it gets scratched or begins to flake, it’s time to find a replacement pan.
Some curbside recycling programs do accept nonstick pans and will handle the removal of the PTFE. One town in North Carolina, for example, will accept all pans, regardless of whether they’re coated with PTFE.
You’ll want to look for whether your local program accepts nonferrous scrap metal (which includes aluminum, copper and stainless steel). You may find your local curbside program doesn’t collect unusual materials like pots and pans, but don’t fret.
“From there they will be melted down and that special non-stick surface will separate properly from the true aluminum material,” she said. Any brand of cookware is accepted by the program and the shipping is covered by the company, who will take care of getting the pans to a recycling center.
All of these things harm the nonstick coating and can leave your cookware unusable. With any pots and pans, regardless of whether they have PTFE coating, it’s important to care for them properly.
A little extra effort ahead of time will make all items in your kitchen last longer. If you’re attached to your damaged nonstick pots and pans and don’t want to get rid of them, there are some unique ideas you can try to “repair” them.
While cooking pans and cookware can last you for decades when looked after, they do have to be disposed of eventually. Most people usually look after their cookware and can have pots and pans that are ancient and still in good condition.
The first thing you should do is find out where your local scrap metal facility is and whether they recycle pots and pans. Many pans, even in bad condition, can be broken down to remove all the metals that they contain.
These pans and pots have a special coating which must be removed before they are recycled properly. In some cases, you might have to give the pans to a household waste facility to recycle them.
If your cookware is still in good condition, you can choose to donate it to friends, other family members, the church or even shelters. Shelters can often have limited funds which makes it difficult for them to have a properly stocked kitchen.
By giving them these amazing pots and pans, you can make their lives easier. Cooking while camping can not only be challenging but sometimes, you might end up losing your good pot.
Additionally, cooking on an open wood fire can discolor your pots, especially as you cannot completely control the temperature. Camping trips don’t happen on a daily basis which means your old pot isn’t being used every day.
This break from the kitchen will ensure that it stays in good shape for a few more years. Additionally, if you lose an old pot on a camping trip, there’s less remorse since you know that it was on its last leg.
Many people often leave their pans dirty because they are traveling or there is a lack of clean water. Dirty pans can be extremely unsafe to cook in and need to be sanitized properly.
Sometimes, your pots might have broken handles, or they might not be good conductors of heat anymore. If you have lots of sewing materials like thread spools, wool yarn balls or more, you can store them all in pots and keep them neatly around the house.
To make them more festive and in line with the holidays, you can paint the pots in bright colors. Even Christmas gifts can be placed in these pots and pans to make them look great.
You can find plenty of DIY projects to try and make creative and innovative holders in your home. This can make them look brand new and turn them into unique show pieces.
For example, pots with handles removed can be used to store oven mitts or even small water bottles. If your pots and pans are just not in good shape, it’s time to put them to use as cookware for a children’s kitchen.
It makes it easy for them to put their imagination to use and it can contribute to increasing their interest in cooking as well. Make sure to only give them light pans to play with as heavier ones might cause injury.
Children will and do tend to flail about with anything you give them so plastic spoons will cause less injury than metal ones. Just make sure to add some nice colors, and they will look amazing in your kid’s playroom.
With the help of these tips, you can easily dispose of your old cooking pans and other cookware in a meaningful manner without any worries. Metal in practically every form has value as a raw material for new products, and that's where special recycling programs come in.
In the case of metal items that aren't cans, lids or foil (e.g. your pots and pans) there are a ton of drop-off opportunities in Rhode Island, and even some special collections. Many cities and towns have scrap metal containers at their recycling centers or waste-transfer stations.
If yours doesn't, you are welcome to come to the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation in Johnston. I wish there was a way for RI RRC (or any facility, for that matter) to accept every last recyclable consumer product on the planet, all mixed together, and magically sort it all out in a way that was practical, affordable, and safe.