How to dispose of kitchen knives

Written by chyrene pendleton
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How to dispose of kitchen knives
Most metal objects thrown away are sorted out at waste processing facilities. (e-waste 2 image by Clarence Alford from

When disposing of your old kitchen knives or any sharp objects, keep in mind who else may come in contact with them, such as children and sanitation workers, and take precautions to ensure they will not cut anyone. You can recycle kitchen knives, especially those made of stainless steel, in some cities by leaving them at drop-off recycling centres. Most cities allow you to throw stainless steel utensils away in the trash--they will be sorted out from the biodegradable waste at a processing facility. Consider donating your kitchen knives to a thrift store or charity in your area, too.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Kitchen knives
  • Cardboard
  • Newspaper (optional)
  • Heavy duty tape
  • Box
  • Empty plastic milk or bleach jugs with tight lids (optional)
  • Coffee can with lid (optional)
  • Marking pen

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    Throwing Knives Away

  1. 1

    Wrap your kitchen knives in heavy paper before throwing them away. Use light cardboard from a cereal box, for example, or wrap them in several layers of newspaper.

  2. 2

    Secure the cardboard or newspaper around your knives with a sturdy, heavy-duty tape.

  3. 3

    Place the wrapped knives in a box also wrapped securely with tape. This step helps to prevent injuries to young children or anyone handling your trash, such as sanitation workers.

  4. 4

    Place your wrapped kitchen knives in a puncture-proof plastic or metal container with a tight-fitting lid if you do not have a box. Appropriate containers include coffee cans and plastic milk or bleach jugs. Seal the lid with tape.

  5. 5

    Throw the box or container holding the wrapped knives away in your trash. Waste processing centres use large, overhead magnets to separate and extract ferrous metals from trash. These include metals like iron and steel.

    Recycling Knives

  1. 1

    Wrap your kitchen knives using cardboard or several layers of newspaper as described in Step 1 of the previous section.

  2. 2

    Secure the cardboard or newspaper surrounding your knives well, using heavy-duty tape.

  3. 3

    Place the wrapped knives into a box, metal container or plastic, puncture-proof jug.

  4. 4

    Write "Caution: Sharp" in large letters on the box or container using a marking pen so the words show up clearly.

  5. 5

    Drop off the container with the knives at a recycling centre in your area. If you do not know where to find a recycling centre, contact your state's Department of Environmental Quality/Department of Environmental Protection.

    Donating Knives

  1. 1

    Clean your unwanted knives thoroughly in warm, soapy water and dry them.

  2. 2

    Sharpen the knives well using a knife sharpener, if you have one.

  3. 3

    Wrap the clean knives well in old newspaper, place them in a box labelled "Sharp Kitchen Knives" and deliver them to a thrift store in your area.

  4. 4

    Obtain an estimated value of your donation from the thrift store to use as a tax write-off.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not dispose of your kitchen knives in glass containers. The glass can break, causing another safety hazard.
  • Do not leave your kitchen knives in kerbside recycling bins. Use kerbside bins only for aluminium metal like beer or soda cans.The magnets used at waste processing plants do not detect aluminium so aluminium requires separate recycling procedures.

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