Electric toothbrush disposal
November 18, 2010 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Best way to dispose of an electric toothbrush?

I have a >7 year old Oral B electric toothbrush that just gave up the ghost. What is the best way to dispose of it? It seems to be sealed, but with a little effort, I'm sure I can take out battery, and bring it to a recycling center. But what about the rest of it? Seems like a waste to toss it.

I'm a little skeptical of some "electronic recycling" centers (and how to separate the good from the bad?). I found TDR Recycling in California. The link that pointed me to them said they would accept electronic toothbrushes mailed to them, but their web site was not as explicit. I will be contacting them. (BTW, I'm on Long Island, NY, so local would be nice.)

I went to the Oral B web site, and they don't seem to have anything about "return for recycling".

(A replacement has been purchased and is on the way. So please, no "fix it yourself" answers. Thanks!)
posted by ObscureReferenceMan to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Have you tried Freecycle? I'd bet an electric toothbrush would contain a few parts that some hobbyists or makers might be able to use. Just cut off the bristles and make them promise not to brush their teeth with it.
posted by bondcliff at 7:35 AM on November 18, 2010

Some big box home improvement stores have a battery recycling box by the returns or customer service area.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:48 AM on November 18, 2010

The batteries in those things are easy to remove. You just need to prise open the bottom (or hacksaw it off). The cheaper Oral Bs I've had contained what was basically an AA cell with connectors soldered on.

I'd guess that the motor, switch, charging coil etc. could just be thrown into a generic 'metals' bin if your recycling centre has one. The rest is just a plastic shell; if your recycling centre takes random plastics, you're all set.

A maker group in your area may want the little motor and other bits, but then it's a question of whether transporting the item from A to B makes any kind of environmental sense.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:07 AM on November 18, 2010

Response by poster: Aaagh! Freecycle!! How did I miss that?!?
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:11 AM on November 18, 2010

Response by poster: One reason I was leery of simply dropping it off (sans battery) at my local recycling center is something I just read. That basically, unless the plastics are marked with a specific number (1-7), they will be thrown away.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:14 AM on November 18, 2010

Best answer: If you want to remove the batteries, Oral-Bs make it really easy. Put the toothbrush on its charging stand, then use the charging stand as a wrench to unscrew the bottom of the toothbrush. I did this and carried the NiCd batteries to a recycle center, where they were received with open arms.
posted by exphysicist345 at 9:05 PM on November 18, 2010

Up inside the head portion, there are two small, black magnets at the end of two thin metal strips. I always save these. The brush head itself is good for cleaning stuff.

The handle portion (containing the battery) can probably go to a Home Depot or Lowe's, or possible Whole Food Market. I believe these drop-off points are run by call2recycle.org, a program funded by manufacturers; look for the "Droppoff Point Locator link onm their home page (in the upper righthand corner).
posted by wenestvedt at 9:32 AM on November 19, 2010

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