There is now little excuse for not having your lawn mower recycled when you decide you need to dispose of it. Most local recycling centers will accept lawn mowers and do the hard work for you.
Alternatively, many scrap collection companies will even pick them up from your home. You could also scrap it for parts either for yourself or to sell on as spares, which can be more lucrative than selling it for scrap (but harder work).
In most cases you want to make sure your lawn mower has reached the end of its life cycle before you dispose of it, but there are exceptions to this rule. Some older lawn mowers are so inefficient that it is better to replace them with a newer, cleaner model regardless of whether they work.
A mower that is 30 years old may be pumping many times more pollution into the air per hour than a new car. Push and electric mowers are good eco-friendly options as they have a much smaller impact on the environment than their gas equivalents.
Why Is Throwing Away Your Lawn Mower Bad for the Environment?
Two reasons. Firstly, anyone abandoning his or her mower without going through the proper disposal process probably either doesn’t care or doesn’t know that they should empty out all the fluids.
Petrol lawn mowers will have gas sitting in one compartment and engine oil in another. If these fluids are not removed, you know that at some point they will find there way into the ground or the nearest body of water. Improper lawn mower disposal is not just bad for the environment either – the liquids represent a health hazard to humans. If that weren’t enough, it’s also a fire hazard.
Secondly, the metal and plastic parts of the lawn mower won’t do the environment any good sitting in the ground. Every bit of scrap metal recycled reduces our need for new metal just a tiny bit.
How To Recycle Your Lawn Mower
Before you store, scrap, or recycle a lawn mower, the first step you should take should be to remove all the fluid within. Place a container beneath the engine drain and pull out the plug, then siphon all the gas left in the tank. If you’re not sure how to do this, check the instructions that came with your mower (you did keep them, right?). Or if it’s working you could keep using it until the fuel has run out.
Remember to use seal-able containers; you don’t want to allow gas or engine oil to flow freely on the ground as they’re a hazardous waste. Reuse or dispose of the fluids in an appropriate manner (your local recycling center will probably accept these if you don’t want them).
Once you’ve removed the fluids, you’ve got a few choices:
Option 1: Take your lawn mower to a recycling center
If you can’t give it away (see option 2), your best bet is probably your government’s recycling program:
- USA – We are not aware of a national recycling program for old lawn mowers in the USA, so you’ll need to proceed to option 2 or 3.
- UK – All household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) will accept mowers free of charge. You may need to bring a photo ID or proof of residence to drop it off at your local tip.
- Canada – The OPEIC recycling program accepts old electric mowers, as well as other outdoor power equipment, but they won’t take ones with fuel-powered engines. They have a range of depots, mainly in British Columbia – click here to find a depot. If there’s not one near you, or you have a lawn mower with an engine, check out your nearest recycling center.
Option 2: Give it away or sell it
If your lawn mower works and you want to get rid of it so you can upgrade, you could give it away or sell it. However, if your lawn mower is old and inefficient, this just means it will continue to create pollution in someone else’s garden! If it’s newer (and thus more likely to be relatively efficient) or an electric model, it is better to reuse it.
Some charities do accept old lawn mowers, but it will need to be in very good condition. Check first before you try to donate it because many won’t want it.
Option 3: Call a junk removal service
Junk removal services offered by scrap dealers are an easy way to get rid of your old lawnmower. These companies will take away your lawn mower and dispose of it for you. These junk removal companies are happy to do this because the scrap metals from your mower (mainly steel, some aluminum) are worth money. They may even give you some compensation.
You may want to check their recycling credentials before you let them get rid of it – are they just after the metal? Or will they try to recycle other components as well?
Option 4: Scrap your broken lawn mowers for parts
This can be profitable if you know what you’re doing and you have a popular model. The idea is that you take your lawn mower apart and sell the parts individually to people who need them for repairs. This requires some technical knowledge and quite a lot of time! Generally, it’s going to be easier to sell it whole (if it works) or take it to a scrap dealer.
If you do decide to do this, you’ll need to take off all connecting wires, seats, tubes, tanks, and tires. Even the collection bin will need to go. You want to be left with a metal skeleton and a bunch of parts. You can then sell what you can, get rid of the few pieces that can’t be recycled, then give the rest to the scrap dealer.
How To Reduce The Environmental Impact of Mowing Your Lawn
Just like cars that run on gasoline, lawn mowers aren’t great for the environment. Here are a few ways you can reduce your impact when mowing your lawn:
1. Buy a More Efficient Lawn Mower
Even the most efficient gas lawn mower is bad for the environment. If you are ready to buy a new lawn mower, consider choosing a manual lawn mower. Mowing your lawn manually won’t create any pollution – although it will take a bit more effort!
Additionally, because there are fewer moving parts, a manual push lawn mower should have a considerably longer lifetime than a gas lawn mower. Plus, there are fewer plastic parts, so they’re easier to recycle once they do reach end of life – most of it will be scrap metal that can’t be recycled.
If you’ve got too much grass to consider a manual lawn mower, an electric lawn mower might be the right choice. Cordless options enable you to use them even on large lawns, and they cause considerably less pollution than a petrol mower. This option is even better if you’re getting your energy either direct from renewable resources (solar power perhaps) or use an energy supplier that focuses on renewables.
2. Purchase Something That Will Last
In addition to the impact of running your mower, there’s also the energy and pollution created when manufacturing it and then recycling it (or, worse, the environmental impact if it ends up in landfill). This means it’s better to purchase something that will last longer. Don’t buy a cheap lawn mower that will only last a few years, instead get one that will last 20 years.
3. Share Equipment Between Neighbors
Making the switch to manual or electric lawn mowing? Great! But you can cut down on waste even further by sharing equipment with your neighbors. After all, most of your mower’s life is spent in your shed or garage – it could easily be used by multiple people.
Sharing devices not only cuts down on materials used, but also on cost – you only have to buy a third or a half of a lawn mower. You can either pocket the difference or spend it on getting a better model.
How do you dispose of old gas from a lawn mower?
Most county recycling agencies and local recycling centers will take gas (and oil) at no cost to you. First, though, you’ll need to siphon out the gas. We recommend using a manual siphon with a pump (don’t use the method where you use your mouth…) to get it out and then make sure you store it in a suitable container. Remember, it’s a fire risk, so keep it in a safe place away from open flames and other sources of heat.