The Smart and Easy Way to Get Rid of (and Recycle!) Your Old Cookware

published Jul 12, 2021
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With every pot or pan, there’s a point where you may just need to give up. Especially with cheaper nonstick pans or lightweight cookware designed to appeal on price (not longevity), there comes a time when the warped bottom, peeling finish, and burnt scars of cooking clearly render it no longer usable. What is less clear is what you are then supposed to do with it. 

If your cookware is still in decent shape (if you’re simply upgrading, for example), you could donate it to a store like Goodwill. But most old, worn-out pans are in no condition to connect with a new owner. The only other option might be sending it straight to a local landfill, which doesn’t seem very environmentally friendly. 

But there’s another solution I just learned about: The Cool Mom Eats blog just wrote about a free service that allows you to get rid of any old cookware, bakeware, and cutlery. It’s run by TerraCycle, which tackles the issue of eliminating waste of all types, including reusable packaging and other typically non-recyclable items. To help tackle pots and pans waste, they’ve partnered with cookware company Calphalon to help people recycle metal-based cookware (they accept all brands of cookware). It’s simple and free — you just have to sign up for an account with TerraCycle and box up any items that qualify. They create a shipping label and you send it off via UPS.

They accept any metal-based cookware, bakeware, and cutlery, which includes nonstick aluminum, stainless steel, carbon steel, and cast iron, which they then clean and smelt into metal sheeting, ingots, or bar stock which will be made into things like nuts, bolts, washers, and rings. Pro tip: Save up a few items to send all at once to decrease the carbon footprint of shipping. It’s a pretty cool way to be a bit eco-friendlier as you upgrade your cookware, and has the benefit of being free and easy.