As you prep for warmer weather, a new grill may be on your mind. If so, make sure you recycle your old one!

grill.jpg Are you disposing of an old grill as part of your pre-cookout season cleaning? Grills can be recycled, but it will take some time and effort on your part. Unlike glass bottles or junk mail, a grill cannot simply be set on the curb and whisked away by a sanitation worker. You will need to disassemble it and drive it to the nearest recycling center. Keep in mind that if you own a gas grill, you may need to find a place to recycle a propane tank as well. Propane tanks can catch fire or explode if mishandled, so make sure you treat it with caution and get it to a qualified recycler.

How to recycle a grill

Grills contain metal, plastic and sometimes wood parts. Given that all these items need to be recycled through a separate process, it is unlikely you will be able to recycle the entire grill in one piece. That means pulling out some tools and taking your grill apart. But before you get too crazy with the screwdriver and hacksaw, there is one very important step: Make sure you clean the grill thoroughly to remove grease and food particles. The recycling company may not take the parts otherwise. Many of the interior pieces can be cleaned with a brush, and you can wipe down the exterior with an old rag. Once the grill is clean, you can get down to the business of dividing it into its different recyclable parts. Sort out all the metal pieces, which will likely include parts of the body, the lid and the grill racks. Do your best to determine the different types of metal, including steel, aluminum, brass and copper. Your recycling center should have a bin for each, and the metals stand a better chance to being recycled into useful materials if you keep them separate. If you can figure out what type of plastic is in your grill, and if your local recycling center accepts plastic, you should be able to recycle items like handles and side shelves. Both of those are pretty big “ifs,” however. It is likely you will need to throw many of the plastic components in the trash. Check them for recycling symbols first, then consult the website of your local waste management agency. You never know what you may be able to save from the landfill. Any wood on your grill is likely to be treated wood, which cannot be recycled. Treated wood has all kinds of chemicals in it, and since the main ways to recycle wood are to burn it or turn it into compost or mulch, it is important to make sure only untreated wood makes its way into recycling bins. Plan on throwing any wood items on your grill in the trash. Grill company Char-Broil has a fairly comprehensive guide to recycling a grill on its website. Check it out for specific instructions of what to do with knobs, hoses, electronics and other items.

How to recycle the propane tank on a grill

You might consider keeping the propane tank from your old grill so that you have a backup tank. If you choose to recycle it, it is important to leave the propane tank as is and not try to disassemble it like you did the grill. Store the tank upright, outdoors and in a place where it is unlikely to be tampered with until you are ready to dispose of it. Many retailers, including AmeriGas and Blue Rhino, will take back steel propane tanks at no charge. You should be able to return your tank to the place you bought it or to another local dealer. Whenever possible propane tank manufacturers like Blue Rhino will paint the tanks, swap out non-working or outdated parts, and sell them for reuse. Any tanks that cannot be reused are taken apart by professionals and recycled (they are made from steel and brass, both of which are easy to recycle). Blue Rhino is also able to suck any remaining gas from the propane tanks and put it back to use. Your other option for recycling the propane tank is to find out how your local solid waste district deals with propane tanks. Residents of Seattle and Menomonie, WI can take propane tanks to their household hazardous waste centers, but that is not the case everywhere in the U.S. For more locations, try searching here.

How to recycle grilling tools

Perhaps you want all new cooking utensils and cleaning tools to go along with your shiny new grill. Your old spatulas, tongs and forks are probably made with some of the same types of metal as your grill, so add them to the pile of scrap metal (after removing any plastic or wooden handles, of course). Items like basting brushes and cleaning brushes cannot be recycled. Any electronics, such as digital thermometers that do not work, should be recycled along with other household electronics. When you invest in new grilling tools, consider buying products made from recycled materials when possible. Bambeco sells utensils made with recycled stainless steel, and Hat Trick BBQ offers spatulas and other grilling tools made from recycled hockey sticks.