Usually, people dispose of their non-stick pans after they show signs of deterioration – scratching, food sticking, chipping and flaking.
But Teflon is one of those non-stick pans many people want to dispose of or recycle due to the scare the Teflon presents. And it’s appreciated, especially when someone has an older unused Teflon pan. The reason is that Teflon’s safety was not established before 2006 and all Teflon non-stick pans contained carcinogenic chemicals.
Teflon itself isn’t carcinogenic or toxic, but a chemical (PFOA) used in it was the reason for the sudden surge in diseases around the place where the Teflon coating was manufactured.
Not just the local area was getting affected, but all those who were using the non-stick pans were also sharing the dread of getting ill.
Although the chemical is no longer used in PTFE (Teflon) coating, people with older or scratched pans want to get rid of the pans responsibly.
But whatever the reason, whether your pan is showing signs of wear and tear or you want to switch to healthier non-stick pans without Teflon, throwing away a non-stick pan made of Teflon is not that straightforward. You have to be careful that it is properly disposed of rather than ending up in the landfill.
In This Article
How to Dispose of Teflon Pans
Here’s what you do to dispose of your Teflon pan properly. It depends on two things:
- Understand what your non-stick pan is made of.
- The area where you live will recycle it or not.
There are different protocols for recycling products in various areas in the country, depending on the product’s materials.
For instance, non-stick cookware has metal in its base. Different recyclers have different policies regarding the metal. Some recyclers don’t accept ferrous, and if your pan has a ferrous metal in it, they will refuse to accept it.
Similarly, some recyclers have no issue in accepting ferrous or non-ferrous metals.
Teflon pans have aluminum used in their core which is non-ferrous, but if the pan is induction compatible, it would have a ferrous content in the steel plate bonded at the bottom.
A simple test is to stick a magnet at the pan to confirm the presence of ferrous metal in the pan.
Local Recycling Company
Check with your local recycling company or municipality. If they take non-stick pans for recycling, your problem is resolved here. But there is a chance that your non-stick pan may not be accepted in city recycling due to the top non-stick coating. The interior metal aluminum and the steel bonded plate has a market value; the top non-stick coating needs to be removed by recycling companies so they can reuse the aluminum within.
Terracycle is another option if any local recycling company doesn’t accept it. Terracycle is a global company operating in 21 countries that collects and reprocess hard-to-recycle materials that you simply can’t curb. They not only recycle but also up-cycle materials to be reused to keep them out of landfills.
Metal Scrap Yard
Metal scrap yards also recycle all the metals. If any recycling company refuses to take the non-stick pan for recycling, you can get in touch with a local metal scrap yard. They melt the metal, and the non-stick coating is removed entirely during the process. The metal will be recycled to make new products.
If a recycling company isn’t taking your non-stick pan, you can up-cycle it to reuse it. There are two ways to up-cycle the non-stick pan by removing the top non-sticking coating.
The non-stick coating can be stripped completely by using a method called sandblasting. Sandblasting is the process of surface finishing, cleaning, corrosion or paint removal by using fine particles of the abrasive material shot at a high velocity.
For pots and pans, it’s better to use walnut blasting, which offers a gentle blasting that can strip the coating without damaging the substrate surface.
You can contact nearby sandblasting companies to help you remove the top coat and continue using the pan like a regular aluminum pan.
If you don’t want to opt for sandblasting, you can use a DIY method to scrub off the non-stick coating of Teflon by using an angle grinder with a wire cup brush attachment. The procedure leaves scratches on the aluminum, but the coating is easily removed.
It’s better to carry out the procedure outside and equip yourself with safety tools such as gloves, glasses, and earmuffs.
The downside of non-stick coating removal is that aluminum is known to leach in food and is not considered safe for cooking. But many studies contradict the statement that aluminum doesn’t leach to the food in excessive quantities, and it remains well under the tolerable limits defined by the ESFA.
Contact the Manufacturer
Some companies that provide lifetime guarantees accept the non-stick pan back. So, if you don’t want to use the Teflon pan, you can call the manufacturer. They remove the old, scratched coating and recoat it.
You will have to bear the cost of mailing the non-stick pan back to the manufacturer. And if the Teflon pan is under warranty, you can get a newly coated pan without the harmful chemical in the coating.
Scratched Teflon pans aren’t particularly known to be harmful and don’t cause health threats if you eat Teflon flakes by mistake. But you shouldn’t keep using the scratched Teflon non-stick pan as you never know what the subsequent studies might prove about accidentally ingesting Teflon with the food. And the idea of properly disposing of the non-stick Teflon pan is that it doesn’t end up in landfills. Recycling the pan takes effort from your side, but you can be sure that you are not contributing to creating more waste.