Recycling Challenge: Pots, Pans & Pyrex

The Challenge: Those cheap Walmart pots and pans you bought just out of college are reaching the end of their usefulness, but there’s a good chance they’re made out of aluminum or stainless steel, which are both recyclable. You can’t put them in the blue bin at the curb, but, according to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, recycling aluminum instead of mining virgin ore for new products results in up to a 95 percent reduction in energy use. Matters get complicated if those pans happen to be coated with a non-stick coating—non-stick recycling is almost nonexistent. And, when it comes to broken Pyrex bakeware, no one will take it. The melting temperature is higher than regular glass, which makes it impossible to incorporate into commercial glass recycling operations.

The Solution: If you’re upgrading to higher-end cookware and your pots and pans are still functional, consider donating them to an organization that needs them, or take them to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or Second Mile (214 S. 45th St., 215-662-1663).

If your cookware is no longer functional, S.D. Richman Sons, located in Port Richmond (2435 Wheatsheaf Ln., 215-535-5100), will accept uncoated pans (no non-stick) for recycling. As mentioned in March 2010’s “Recycling Challenge,” they allow passenger vehicles into the facility, so they’re a good choice for residents. Unfortunately, if your pans are non-stick, your two options are repurposing them or sending them to a landfill, unless you’re planning on purchasing new Calphalon Unison cookware (see “The Eco-Aware Consumer” below).

As for broken Pyrex, you’re out of luck until Corning initiates a take-back program, so try to find an artist who’s willing to use it for a project.

The Eco-Aware Consumer: If you’re in the market to upgrade your cookware, you might consider Calphalon Unison, which comes with a box and prepaid shipping labels for old cookware, regardless of whether or not it’s non-stick. The Calphalon ReNew program recycles the cookware—approximately 35 percent of new cookware is recycled aluminum. If you want to kick your recycled content up a notch, look for Starfrit cookware, which is made with 99 percent recycled aluminum.