Can you recycle Teflon/nonstick coated cookware?
January 15, 2005 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Can you recycle Teflon/nonstick coated cookware? We've just gotten a whole new set of high-quality stainless and we'd like to get rid of our old nonstick stuff, but don't know if it's actually recyclable. What with all the hubbub lately about Teflon doing nasty nasty things, I'd hate to just put it in the trash and have it kill somebody later on.
posted by 40 Watt to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My new discovery: posting an ad in the "free stuff" area of Craig's List. Clean it up, put it in a box and offer it on the site. Someone will likely want it enough to come pick it up.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:38 PM on January 15, 2005

Another way to give it away is It exists in a lot more places than CraigsList.

"It's a grassroots movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns." I've found it very useful, but each freecycle is mostly independent, so YMMV.
posted by RecalcitrantYouth at 4:31 PM on January 15, 2005

There's supposed to be a freecycle for my area. There's a Yahoo group and everything. It has absolutely no traffic, and the moderators don't respond to questions about what's going on.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:52 PM on January 15, 2005

This ain't my thread, so please correct me if I've missed the point, but it seems to be that 40 Watt is not trying to give the cookware to someone else -- thus the remarks about Teflon doing nasty stuff. I think the question is whether such items are recyclable, like cans and bottles are recyclable.

I only step in because the answer is of interest to me, too. Don't mean to step on anyone's toes.
posted by Dr. Wu at 5:01 PM on January 15, 2005

Apparently, teflon is recycled by a solvent process and according to the Ann Arbor Recycling Program, some programs will take teflon-coated items directly off your hands. Other's won't, however, I did find an interesting suggestion- donate it to a battered women's shelter- here's a short list for reference.
posted by headspace at 6:19 PM on January 15, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the responses, gang, but Dr. Wu gets extra points for his answer. I guess I should have been more explicit- Since I'm concerned (however irrationally) about using the stuff myself, I don't want to give it away to other people either.

What I guess I'm asking is: Is Teflon safe to stick in the recycling, or do I need to dispose of it as hazardous waste? I'm not interested in other ways to get rid of it, I'm purely interested in disposing of it.

More bonus points for disposal methods within the Chicago city limits.
posted by 40 Watt at 7:03 PM on January 15, 2005

Off topic: I live in Oakland CA and had to find a place to recycle an old rusting steel cabinet recently. I finally found a place called schnitzer steel out by the port. It was bitchin'! Like Richard Scarry or something. They had these great claw machines that grabbed onto cars and piled them on top of eachother 10 or 12 high. Anyway, if you live in the bay area and have something steel to get rid of, make a trip. Really big machines and huge piles of human detritus of all (steel) matter...very neat.
posted by prettyboyfloyd at 7:13 PM on January 15, 2005

In the City of Evanston teflon coated products are 'not accepted for curbside recycling'. That city uses Groot/Crown Recycling which has an interactive map of Cook County showing the areas they serve [flash]. So I would hazard to guess that if your area is serviced by Groot/Crown then you can't recycle the teflon coated pans since it can't be done in Evanston but I would call and ask.
posted by squeak at 8:07 PM on January 15, 2005

Have you tried contacting your local Sierra Club chapter/ other local environmental group, 40Watt? They may have an answer for you. I'd be interested to hear what the final result is.
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:17 AM on January 16, 2005

Teflon is one of the least toxic things there is. When exposed to very high heat (>350 degrees), it can depolymerize and liberate fluorine gas, which is not pleasant to breathe in confined spaces, but due to its low molecular weight it would quickly disperse. The only hazard is if you're standing right over the cooktop, taking deep breaths.

Again, if you don't heat it, it's completely inert and non toxic. Plenty of surgical implants contain Teflon. You throw away dozens of things every day with far more potential to harm, I'm sure.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:21 PM on January 16, 2005

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