Getting Rid of Stuff: Starting With Pots and Pans recycle or Garbage

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I’ve learnt it’s totally freeing to get rid of stuff. If you’ve got a collection of things and you’re looking to lighten the clutter, start with the kitchen. If you do, you’ll probably wonder how to deal with old pots and pans (recycle or garbage)? Here’s the thing…

…the more stuff you own the more stuff owns you. The more you can move these pieces on, the better you’ll feel mentally and spiritually. This fits within the Buddhist’s belief of impermanence and relates to the free movement of energy.

pots and pans recycle or garbage

I enjoy living with less clutter. It makes sense to me because it advocates less stress, which fits within my self wilding principle.

About a year ago I decluttered my kitchen including the cupboards. Anything duplicate was given a new home. If you’re going through this process you might find the following helpful.

What to do with pots and pans recycle or garbage

The following provides useful solutions, but not everywhere will have the same specific collection or exchange programs. I recommend you read the following and use it as a guide for what may be available in your area.

For US readers, simple solutions for disposing of old pots and pans by Crystal’s Cookware Hub may help.

Garbage – Going to landfill

You could drop your old stuff off with other trash at a landfill near you, but it may come at a cost. Check out the local authority’s rules as these will differ from place to place.

You could easily put them in the curbside garbage collection bin, but it’s better to look at enviro-friendly options, right?

How else can you throw away old pots and pans?


Providing they’re not faulty or broken, you could give your pots and pans to another home. Online places that help with this include Ziilch, Freecycle and OzRecycle. There are op shops such as the Salvation Army, St Vinnies, or other charity stores to which you can donate them for resale.

Gift Or Sell It

You can gift them, swap them or sell them to your friends or to others through Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, SwapAce or Quicksale.

Or hold an an online auction on Ebay or Trading Post.


For you who are conscious of your environmental footprint, let’s check out the pots and pans recycle programs.

Some cookware material is recyclable. The following gives a general idea of options available for the different pots and pan types, including Pyrex, ceramic, Teflon, and aluminium, which are the main types.

Pyrex Glass

Pyrex glass cookware and glass lids are generally not accepted by curbside recycling programs.

The reason Pyrex isn’t accepted is that it doesn’t melt at the same temperature as other glass. Adding it to your recycling will contaminate the rest. The thing to do with this type is to pass it onto charity or to another home via the above suggestions. 


By ceramic, I mean all ceramic cookware, not the nonstick type. You’ll find recycling programs don’t exist for ceramic items because ceramic does not melt.1

Consider passing it on to a new home using the ideas and links given above.

If any are broken or chipped, you could repurpose of upcycle these ceramic pots. Look for ideas on Pinterest. 

The Zero Waste Institute advises you can break the ceramic into pieces and then down to particles to return them to the clay from which is what they are derived.1 

I’ve used broken up pieces of ceramic in the bottom of pot plants as it makes an excellent drainage material. Being 100% ceramic it will be free of problem chemicals.

Metal Cookware

You can check, but most curbside recycling programs don’t accept scrap metal and this means metal cookware.

There are exceptions. Some councils, e.g. Darebin in Melbourne, Australia according to OnlyMelbourne, accept “clean pots, pans and other metal cooking dishes (even with plastic handles)”. But no glass lids are accepted. Check out your local council, they may have a page similar to ‘What goes in your bins‘ by the City of Melbourne.

If you are considering offloading your metal frying pans to recyclers of scrap metals, you’ll probably need to tell them whether your cookware is nonferrous or ferrous. 

They’ll contain nonferrous metal if they are made from aluminium, copper or stainless steel. 

The ferrous metal is iron, and this will be your cast iron skillet. If you are not sure whether your cookware is ferrous, simply use a magnet. If it sticks it will contain ferrous. Some stainless steel cookware may have a ferrous layer incorporated.

Nonstick Cookware

If your nonstick pan has worn away and the aluminium is exposed, it’s time to get rid of it. If it is worn away to only the aluminium base, pretty much the advice above sticks.

Otherwise, metal recyclers may or may not accept Teflon nonstick cookware (with the PTFE coating still intact).

How to dispose of Teflon pans

You can check with the company and see if they have a mail-back program for PTFE-coated or ceramic coated nonstick cookware.

To repurpose your Teflon pan, a great idea is to upcycle it as a chalkboard.

Repurpose Old pots and pans

Pinterest is a good place to grab some repurposing ideas for household stuff, including old pots and pans.

There are a lot of repurposing ideas, including this list of 25 ideas from a DIY site for repurposing old kitchenware including old Teflon pans. So you could go wild with your creative ideas.

Or simply plant out flowers or herbs in your old pots or pans. 

Final wrapup

What to do with your old pots and pans?

When disposing of your pots and pans and other kitchen stuff, think about recycling or repurposing it for the sake of the environment at least.

For recycling near you, check out Planet Ark. Terracycle also collects certain household items, but not cookware at the time of writing this.


  1. Zero Waste Institute, Ceramics, accessed 4 August 2020.
  2. Recycling Near You, Planet Ark, accessed 4 August 2020
  3. Terracycle, accessed 4 August 2020

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About the Author

Mary-Anne believes in simple and natural living. She has a PhD and almost 20 years experience in natural resource management. Prior to this, she spent over a decade working in social welfare and knows well the everyday struggles of people. On a personal level, she's had a fair share of life struggles herself. Her multifold background gives her a lived experience for understanding both human nature and the natural world and how it's all interconnected   ...

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