Friday, May 18, 2007

Ask The Green Miles: Are Microwaves Recyclable?

A reader recently submitted this question to Ask The Green Miles:

I've recently come across your blog and though you might have an answer to a question that I've not been able to find an answer to.

How does one properly dispose an old microwave oven? I thought I could take it to one of the recent hazardous household disposal days/e-cycling events, but they all said no small appliances and microwaves.

Calls to DC and Arlington County have gone unanswered. I know I shouldn't just toss it into the dumpster, but I feel like I've run out of options (and freecycle or free on craigslist is not an option -- it isn't really working anymore).

After a couple of quick emails to friends who work for Arlington County's Department of Environmental Services, I got this answer:

[O]ld microwave ovens are considered non-hazardous and are managed as a solid waste for disposal. There are, however, components that that are recyclable if demanufactured (e.g., metal, glass). Arlington County Solid Waste Bureau provides this service through their special-request collection in which a collection fee is charged.

For more information and/or to schedule a special collection for your microwave oven please call the Solid Waste Bureau Customer Service Center at (703) 228-6570.

While researching microwaves, I got to wondering whether they were energy efficient. Looks like cooking something in the microwave is vastly more energy efficient than cooking something in the oven. From Yes! Magazine:

According to Louis A. Bloomfield, professor of physics at the University of Virginia, cooking with microwave ovens is neither energy-hungry nor dangerous. In fact, compared to conventional ovens, microwave ovens are about five times more energy efficient, transferring 50 percent of their energy into food compared to the 10 percent energy transfer of conventional ovens.

You can read past editions of Ask The Green Miles here.

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