A study from UCLA has linked Teflon cookware, more specifically the perfluorochemicals in Teflon, to female infertility. Additionally, when Teflon is heated, it will release a gas that kills birds and causes flu-like symptoms in humans. Scratched nonstick pans are also considered a health hazard.
This has lead to swarms of people looking for ways to responsibly rid themselves of their non-stick, Teflon cookware. There are quite a few cities and counties that will not recycle non-stick cookware. However, you can recycle Teflon in Ann Arbor. It is highly probable that other cities will allow you to recycle Teflon pans alongside normal pans. Check with your local recycling program before mailing your Teflon to Ann Arbor.
There does not seem to be a great, nation-wide non-stick pan recycling program. Finding any information on the subject of recycling Teflon cookware has been trying. The only things harder to recycle than Teflon are dentures.
The Search For the Great Teflon Recycling Program
Sand Blasting Teflon While researching this topic, I stumbled across a forum thread about removing Teflon from pans. One commenter came up with this novel solution.
From Kelli2006 on Chowhound:
You can look in the Yellow pages and find a business that does sand-blasting and ask them to remove the rest of the Teflon with a walnut shell abrasive. It will leave the stainless steel base metal unharmed and should cost less than $20.00 to do. I have done it a few times, and recommend it to anyone who doesn't want to lose a great pan due to the fact that the Teflon coating is chipping.
Do pay heed to the advice about using the walnut shell abrasive, or possibly glass bead. True sand-blasting (with actual sand as the abrasive) would likely cut far too quickly. What you want is to only remove the non-stick coating, and to remove little or no underlying metal.
Once the Teflon is gone, it would just be a steel pan that could be reused or recycled. Of course, it would cost you $100+ dollars to recycle 5 pans.
Notes and Other Research on Teflon Recycling
If you search far and long enough on the internet for nonstick pan-recycling programs, you?ll come across links to the site Fryingpanman.com. This site no longer exists or is under renovation. Instead, a link to Continental Companies appears. Continental Companies is specialized in "very difficult applications where coating systems are custom designed to allow for some of the fastest turn-around times in the industry."
I called the company. They told me they only recycle pans for restaurants, and I'm pretty sure that they meant re-coat when they said recycle.
That's slightly good news. You can fix your Teflon pans if you know a restaurateur.
Along the same lines, a lot of Teflon-pan manufacturers will resurface your pans. You can call the company that made the pan and see if they will just take their pans back.
The closest thing I found to a recycling program was Calphalon Renew. If you buy nonstick cookware from Calphalon, you can fill your newly acquired cookware box with your old cookware and Calphalon will recycle it. But you'll still end up owning Teflon cookware in the end.
Teflon Recycling Conclusion
I didn't solve a whole lot with this post. I didn't break the Teflon-recycling world wide open. My only hope is that this information will prove useful to future generations and that we'll end up with better and better recycling programs for Teflon and other hard-to-recycle materials. If you know more about recycling Teflon in your area, leave the info in the comments below.
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