You've sautéed, seared and simmered the life out of your old set of cookware and you're finally ready for a new set. But what do you do with your used pots and pans? Before you make the decision to chuck them in the garbage, consider this: throwing away that 10-piece set means you're contributing to the 167-million tons of waste that goes into U.S. landfills each year. Recycle those old pots and pans instead and you're on the way to being an ecological superhero!
Examine those pots and pans one last time to see if they still have any life in them. Recycling is good, but reusing your cookware is even better because you save the energy that would be used processing them as scrap metal. If your issues with your old cookware are mostly cosmetic, consider giving them to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army where your trash might become someone else's treasure.
Brainstorm some creative ideas that will allow you to reuse those old pots and pans in other areas of your home. Maybe those pots aren't good for boiling water anymore, but what about collecting rainwater to water your plants? Or what if you removed the handles and used gift wrap to découpage the outside to make a pretty planter for your houseplants? Other ideas for reusing pots and pans include using them as a watering dish for pets, for messy craft applications like boiling beeswax or mixing paint, or turning them into a plaything for a toddler.
Call your local recycling centre. If your pots and pans are aluminium, they may accept them in the aluminium recycling area, but if your pots are made from a mixed-metal composition, they will probably need to be recycled as scrap metal. If your local recycling centre doesn't collect scrap metal, ask them if they can refer you to someone local who does.
Contact a scrap metal recycler. If the local recycling centre doesn't accept small scrap metal and doesn't have a referral for you, pull out your phone book or get on the Internet and search for scrap metal recyclers. These are independent companies who collect scrap metal to recycle and resell to industrial manufacturers.
Remember, every time you prevent more waste from being added to a landfill you're helping to create a sustainable environment for yourself and generations to come.