How to Recycle or Dispose of a Microwave in Colorado

how to recycle or dispose of a microwave in colorado boulder

If you’re wondering how to recycle or dispose of a non-working microwave in Colorado (and most especially in the area of Boulder, Colorado) well, you are not alone. And the good news is that it’s actually really easy to do. And that unlike appliance stores which will charge you to haul it away, the two ways to dispose of a broken microwave are free (well, actually one charges you $3, so nearly free)! Yay!

I recently had to try to figure out how to do this myself. Actually I’ve had to do it twice in the space of four years. No, I’m not particularly hard on microwaves; the built-in over-the-range microwave that came with my house was already old and well-loved, and when it died, I bought a used one on Craigslist (same exact model so that I knew it would fit). As it had already been used by two previous owners, I figured that I would have to replace it at some point, and I did. That said, that second one did last for more than 3 years of near-daily use, so no complaints there (that second one is the one in the picture).

This time there was no comparable one for sale on Craigslist, plus with being so very high risk for Covid I was hoping to order one online, and one that was the same model so, again, I knew it would fit and that it would use the same installation hardware. As it turned out, that exact model isn’t made any more, and the the one most like it (it included a convection oven) was waaaay more than I wanted to spend (especially as I had never once used the convection oven feature). However, the (sort of) same model sans convection oven was not only available, and much less costly, but it was on sale.

The new microwave on the way, I set about figuring out how to dispose of the old, non-functional one. Here’s the thing: If you have an appliance store come and install your new microwave, they will usually haul away the old one. They may do it for free – then again they may not. Best Buy, for example, charges $30 bucks to dispose of your old microwave. Of course, if you aren’t having an appliance store deliver and install your new microwave, that doesn’t help at all. And you are left trying to figure out how to get rid of the darned thing.

So you search and search online (that’s how you ended up here, right?), and find that there are places that you can take it to be recycled, such as the various dumps, but that they will charge you anywhere from $50 to $200(!) to accept your broken microwave.


Here are the two ways to dispose of a microwave for free in Colorado.

How to Recycle or Dispose of a Broken Microwave in Colorado

First, I assume that your old microwave doesn’t work. If it does work, then you can donate it to any one of a number of different charities, or charitable thrift stores such as Goodwill or ARC. Or if you can’t easily wrangle it to take it somewhere, post it for free on Nextdoor or Craigslist. Which brings me to my next point.

Remember that first non-working microwave that I replaced? I posted it on Craigslist, for free, making very clear that it was broken, and received a couple of different responses from people who wanted it! They knew it wasn’t working, I don’t know why they wanted it, maybe for parts, maybe they thought they could fix it. I really don’t know why they wanted it, but I was glad that they did, and one of them came and picked it up!

However if that doesn’t work, or if for some reason you don’t want to do that, the CHARM (Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials) division of Ecocycle in Boulder will take it, and here’s the thing: if you came across them in your search, you will have noticed that on their “what we accept and what it costs” page, they don’t mention microwaves anywhere. They do list other appliances, with associated fees, but not microwaves. Some places on the Internet will tell you to take it to CHARM as a “small electronic”, for which they charge by the pound. But those places are WRONG (thank goodness, because microwaves are heavy, so that would be pretty pricey).

As it turns out, CHARM does take microwaves, and they classify them as scrap metal, for which there is no per-pound fee, the only fee you pay is the $3 entrance fee (which is per vehicle – woohoo, hop in the car, kids, we’re going on a very short road trip!) And, to be certain, here is an email exchange I had with an awesome CHARM Ecocycle employee:


Hi! Can you please help me understand what the protocol is for bringing in a non-functioning microwave? The information out there is kind of confusing, it *seems* like it’s considered scrap metal, and there is no per-pound charge, but I can’t imagine that’s actually right?

CHARMing employee:

Thank you for reaching out, sorry that this is confusing! Microwaves are indeed scrap metal! There is no facility fee and also no fee per pound. We just ask that you please remove the glass plate/turntable inside. This material is heat proof and will not melt, so it is not recyclable. You may use it as a saucer under your houseplants or hold onto it in case a future microwave plate breaks ?
Glad you asked!

So, how cool is that! :~)

RIP Dear Old Microwave!
how to recycle or dispose of a microwave in colorado boulder

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