Can You Recycle Cast Iron Pots And Pans? (Guide)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

A cast-iron pan is a staple in many kitchens.  But what happens when you no longer need one?  Recycling or upcycling your cast iron would be the ideal option, however, is disposing of them that way possible?

Continue reading to learn more about how to recycle cast iron pots and pans and more!

Can You Recycle Cast Iron Pots And Pans?

You can recycle cast iron pots and pans. Furthermore, Cast iron is a recyclable item and should not just be thrown out with the regular trash. However, recycling cast iron will require some research, therefore, you can reach out to your local recycling center, scrap metal yard, or resale store for more information.  

Read on for more information about how to properly recycle your cast iron pots and pans! 

How Do You Recycle Your Cast Iron Cookware?  

Recycling such a widely used metallic element is not like recycling items such as: 

  • Glass
  • Plastic 
  • Paper

This is because recycling centers are equipped to handle certain items, including cast iron metal that cannot be recycled at the center because it will contaminate the recycling stream.   

Furthermore, it takes many years for cast iron to break down which is why recycling your cast iron skillet is quicker and better for the environment.  

Additionally, when recycled, the cast iron can be melted down and made into something new. 

Where Should You Recycle Cast Iron? 

So where do you go to recycle your cast iron pan?  Depending on the type of cast iron skillet you have determines what facility will accept this item. 

Furthermore, since cast iron pans and pots are made from iron, not every facility is equipped to break down this type of cookware for reuse.

Moreover, this is because this metal is sometimes coated with what is considered seasoning which is a coating of oil and fat that has essentially been baked or cooked into the pan.  

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Therefore, when contacting local waste management, let recycling centers know if the pan is seasoned or has any type of coating on it. 

By doing this it will help to find the right location that will accept the cookware.

Contact Your Local Recycling Center

Many recycling centers restrict what they will accept. Some items they will take are: 

  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Corrugated Paper
  • Glass
  • Carton

Furthermore, this falls within what most centers will retrieve if set out for curbside pick-up.  

Therefore, check within your community’s recycling centers to see if cast iron cookware can be dropped off.  

Additionally, contact the local waste management and inquire if there is a pick or drop-off service for items like a cast iron pan. 

If so, you are all set and can leave them out with your other recyclables or drop them off during their operating hours. 

Find A Local Scrapyard For Your Cast Iron Cookware

Cast iron is a metal that can be reshaped by melting.

Therefore, melting down your cast iron skillet means you can create: 

  • Furniture
  • Cooking tools
  • Home Decor

However, to melt down this type of metal, special equipment that scrapyards have access to is necessary.  

Fortunately, finding a scrapyard near you is a quick internet search or a recommendation from your local recycling center away.  

Furthermore, by choosing to drop your cast iron at the scrapyard, you know that it will be reused as a completely different item.  

Scrap metal locations may not pick up your cookware; however, some locations may pay for your cast iron pan, therefore, inquire with the scrapyard before dropping off your item.  

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Are Cast Iron Pans Biodegradable? 

Are Cast Iron Pans Biodegradable? 

For an item to be biodegradable, under the best conditions and microorganisms, it will break down naturally and return to its original components and not harm its surroundings. 

Furthermore, cast iron pans are biodegradable; however, it takes years for them to completely deteriorate.  

Also, it should be placed in an area that would benefit from the iron it will emit when breaking down.

This is because authentic cast iron pans can even emit a small amount of iron onto your food when cooking.  

This is the same when cast iron breaks down naturally in the environment. Since cast iron pans are mostly iron mixed with steel, the iron it will emit, helps nature as the pot rusts away.  

Are Cast Iron Pans Bad For The Environment?

Cast iron is considered environmentally friendly as it is made from iron and other natural materials.

Furthermore, cast iron cookware can be reused, making it in line with the three Rs of recycling.  

These three Rs stand for Reduce, reuse, and recycle, and they are the basics of helping the environment.

What Makes Cast Iron Good For The Environment?

Cast iron pans are durable and long-lasting therefore they can easily be upcycled or recycled.  

Even when they are damaged beyond their cooking use, if a cast-iron skillet was left to deteriorate, it will break down slowly and it would emit the iron that is good for the environment. 

However, leaving your cast iron to sit and decompose could take a lifetime, therefore, it is not recommended.  

Repurpose Your Cast Iron Cookware

In many cases, a cast iron pan can be restored. For the badly rusted cast iron pan, try the following steps below to restore them:  

  • Use a scouring pad, and with hot water, scrub the cast iron’s rust away.
  • Rinse the cast iron pan and then dry it completely with a paper towel or cloth drying towel.  
  • Once dry, rub a light coat of vegetable oil or other cooking oil all over the pan.
  • Place upside down in the oven over a cooking sheet to catch any access oil that may drip.
  • Turn on the oven to 350 degrees and leave for an hour.
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Another option for your cast iron pan is to use it for décor.

Furthermore, after removing any rust, paint designs on your pans and use them as wall décor or place them near your front door with a special greeting written in chalk.

Another idea is to hang an old set of cast iron pans along your kitchen wall. 

Additionally, because repurposed cast iron cookware is simply upcycling, consider it a creative way to reuse that cast iron pan.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on whether you can recycle oatmeal containers and packets, whether you can recycle metal cutlery and utensils, and whether you can recycle McDonald’s fast-food soda cups.


Luckily, your old cast iron pots and pans can be recycled at your local scrap yard. Additionally, you can also upcycle these items into new items such as home decor, furniture, and other cookware!

Furthermore, this is a better alternative to taking them to a landfill as they can sit there for many decades very slowly decomposing into the soil.


  • Jean Richardson

    Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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