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Discover Recyclables in Common Discarded Electrical Appliances: An Autopsy

I learned the art of frugality from a Depression Era survivor. Join me in learning how to live on less. Save money, have fun, and be secure.

Electrical Household Appliances Contain Treasure!

A common household fan housing may be made of plastic, tin or zinc. The fan blades may be may be plastic, steel or aluminum. A stand pole is probably steel. Your main motor has copper windings - the greater the voltage of the motor, the more copper.

If your fan has a control board, it contains lead, and perhaps a very tiny amount of silver on any contacts. There may be aluminum heat sinks on the motherboard.

The fan in my example probably had a couple dozen steel screws. The base may be made of pot metal, a recyclable ferrous metal, but mine was plastic. The power cord was the main source of wire, while the board yielded a small quantity of low grade insulated copper wire.

Occasionally, recycling centers take whole fans including the blades, metal blade irons, and remote control batteries. Others metal centers utilize guidelines that are rigid and will only take some of the parts. Call or take your old fan to a recycle yard and verify what they can recycle.

Nearly Everything in A Microwave Oven is Reusable or Recyclable

The Grand Total of Recyclables from the Old Emerson TV

This is what I got out of the stripped Emerson.

This is what I got out of the stripped Emerson.

What Was in the Emerson?

In this common household appliance, the recycle is as follows:

1. Steel - perhaps 1.5 pounds

2. A yoke filled with copper wire

3. Magnet from the speaker

4. Low grade copper wire

5. Stainless steel brackets

6. One control board

7. One degaussing cable (higher grade copper)

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What Was in the Memorex VCR?

  1. 27 assorted screws
  2. A power cord
  3. A nice board
  4. A piece of coaxial cable
  5. A transformer
  6. 4.5 pounds of steel case
  7. A small electric motor
  8. A couple of pieces of aluminum
Inside the Memorex

Inside the Memorex

What Was in the Whirlpool Commercial Dryer?

  1. 84 pounds of sheet steel
  2. One pigtail
  3. A motor (dryer motors frequently have aluminum windings coated with copper and therefore do not acquire as high a price)
  4. Copper wire
  5. 2 drum rollers and assorted screws, bolts, washers, and nuts
  6. 1 timer and start switch

Lifting Heavy Appliances

The smallest CRT televisions are the easiest to pick up on the side of the street. Let's face it, some of the larger models are pretty tough on the back. I harvest most anything I find, but I also have a hydraulic lift that will handle up to 1000 pounds. I can put a large TV in my truck and roll it to a large appliance. Then I walk the appliance onto the platform, jack it up, and push and slide it into my truck. It works great for all types of jobs.

Carafe Type Coffee Makers

While I have concentrated on electrical items I enjoy stripping, I should give time to those that are perhaps less than profitable tear downs. With a basic coffee maker the e-waste is limited. The base plate, warmer plate, and heating unit are made out of various metals, usually steel or anodized aluminum. The carafe is made out of heat-proof glass. Other parts include timers, switches, and wiring. The timer and switch are small, while the wiring is scanty.

Recent Prices for Recycled Metal in the Phoenix, Arizona Area

  1. Aluminum Cans - $0.80
  2. Dirty Aluminum- $0.06
  3. Clean Aluminum- $0.30
  4. Clean Lead - $0.40
  5. Plastic CRV Bottles-$0.30
  6. Steel - $0.05
  7. #2 Copper Wire - $0.65
  8. Motors - $0.15
  9. Split Aluminum Cans-$0.30
  10. Romex - $1.80
  11. Aluminum Radiators -$0.40
  12. Cu Yokes -$0.80
  13. Brass - $1.80
  14. Low Grade Boards - $0.10

My Recycle Value - $6.90

  1. 1.5 pounds yoke $1.20
  2. 7 pounds aluminum wire motor $0.35
  3. 2.5 pounds boards $0.25
  4. 90 pounds steel $4.50
  5. 1 pound #2 wire $0.60

A Senior Recycler's Conclusions

This article should give the casual reader an idea of how much metal is in appliance waste.

For those interested in recycle values, the examples above should be a beginning to your exploration.

If you consider this exercise a potential waste of your time, I am glad folks are making good money today.

But for everyone, please consider what is being tossed out in the garbage, thrown on the curb, or dumped elsewhere. Conserving will be absolutely necessary in the future for us, our children, and grandchildren.


No Author. (2016, October 6). Cut the Plastic. Recycling Household Items: the Fan & Copper, Is It Really Worth It?.

Timbes, Hannah (2021). Hunter Fan Blog. Are Ceiling Fans Recyclable?

Jordan, Aisha (2020, November 19). Life Hacker. Don't Throw Away Your VHS Tapes.

Creech, Lidia (2020, June 25). Resource. UK Households Sitting On 17 Billion Pounds of Small Electricals, Report Says.

Scrap Metal (2011, January 9). How to Scrap Degaussing Cable, How to Strip Degaussing Cable.

Frugalreality (2019, September 23). How to Sell and and Get Cash for Your Old Refrigerator (Interactive Map of States).

Cheeseman, Gina-Marie (2011, December 20). Triple Pundit. How to Make Big Old Appliances. Money Recycling. (

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 John R Wilsdon

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