How to Recycle Old Power Tools

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So, you finally got that new power drill you've been eyeing — or you finally got around to cleaning out the garage. In any case, you have old power tools to get rid of. Recycling seems more responsible than simply throwing them away, but what does that look like with power tools? It's not like you can recycle power tools in your curbside bin with your empty soup cans. Your options depend on the quality of the tools and the recycling resources in your area.

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Start by Assessing the Tools' Value

Make sure you know the condition of your power tools before getting rid of them. Inspect every tool for cracks in the casings, frayed cords, and other obvious signs of damage. Charge any battery-operated tools completely. Test every tool to determine if it still works effectively and safely. If you're not comfortable handling power tools yourself, ask someone who is familiar with them to assess them for you.

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If the tools are still in good working condition and you want to consider selling them, research their current prices. This will give you a sense of what you could charge for used tools if you decide to list them on a local sales platform, like Facebook Marketplace.

Many organizations gladly accept donations of used but functional power tools. If any of your tools fit this description, look for a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. They're essentially thrift stores with a focus on home improvement supplies. Habitat for Humanity will sell your donated tools with the money going back into the organization to help build more homes in your community.

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Check the donation guidelines for your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other thrift stores as well. These stores will often accept power tools in good condition. You can also post something on social media; you might know someone who knows of an organization or individual needing donated power tools.

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Finally, using Earth911's searchable recycling database might be useful. Search "power tools" and your ZIP code to get a list of organizations in your area that accept used power tools for donation or recycling.

Find an Electronics Recycling Site

If they no longer work, you may be able to recycle power tools the same way you would recycle electronic waste — at a designated e-waste collection site run by your municipality's waste disposal agency. If you don't find any collection sites listed through Earth911, check your town or city's website for information about recycling sites. There may be just one e-waste recycling site in your area.

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Look for a Scrap Recycler

Scrap metal recyclers may also buy used power tools that are made primarily of metal. Every scrap recycler has its own rules about what kinds of materials it will accept, so you may need to contact local scrappers directly to see if they'll take your tools.

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Recycle Rechargeable Batteries and Dispose of Tools

If for some reason you can't find a recycling site or scrap recycler that will take your used power tools, you'll have to throw them away. First, you must remove any rechargeable power tool batteries from them. These batteries require special handling and recycling. Home improvement stores, electronics stores, and even grocery stores often accept rechargeable batteries for recycling. Find a drop-off location using the searchable map maintained by Call2Recycle.

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Place tools in heavy-duty contractor bags, which are less likely to be punctured by tools than standard garbage bags. Cover any sharp edges with tape and wrap tools in newspaper first to keep garbage collectors from being injured while handling your trash.

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