Recycling your old kitchen: ingredients for better living

oliver General, Materials, Recycling / upcycling, Vintage

Designing a new kitchen is an exciting opportunity to really focus on reducing your future use of resources in one of the most energy-hungry rooms in the house. But just what do you do with your old kitchen?

It’s shocking how many kitchens are replaced before the end of their useful life, and this is particularly true of high-end kitchens. This report, by US organisation the National Association of Home Builders, gives a more detailed breakdown of the lifespan of kitchen appliances. For example, the average lifespan of a microwave oven or dishwasher is only a meagre nine years.


When designing a new kitchen, I work hard to specify materials, fixtures and fittings that can be easily recycled when they reac the end of their useful life. Of course, durability is the key, but often kitchens are replaced at key moments, such as when houses are bought and sold. Materials such as solid timber and stainless steel are readily recyclable but this will also require some energy use. But what if we could reuse kitchens and minimise the energy used to recycle them?


It’s an idea that’s firmly behind the work of Kitchen Synch (oh clever name – what they’ve done there?!). They offer a ‘simple and convenient way to release money from decent but unwanted goods’ by helping you to sell more or less your whole kitchen. Of course it also means that you can get your hands on a high end kitchen at a fraction of the cost ……. if it fits!

The recycling of electrical goods is now, thankfully, subject to legislation. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive makes producers and importers of electronic goods responsible for recycling their products. Covering the whole of the EU, manufacturers, importers and retailers of electronic and electrical goods are obliged to create systems that allow customers to recycle obsolete goods free of charge. Usually through store ‘take-back’ schemes on a like-for-like basis.


Companies like Boots operate these schemes when you purchase new white goods. It’s the same story at Appliance Direct. Although, they both make clear there is a small charge for transportation of goods, not the recycling itself. It’s a small fee and well worth it when you consider the alternative is trying to dispose of the item yourself. Plus you know that it’s going to be recycled properly. You don’t want your appliance ending up in a landfill either in the UK or abroad, do you?


When it comes to using reclaimed timber, you should always try your local wood recycling centre. Brighton’s National Wood Recycling Project’s website helps you to find your nearest centre. Or you could even have a go at reusing some of your old bits of furniture yourself, like using your old kitchen drawers for storage in the garage or the attic. It’s a similar idea to what I’ve been doing on numerous projects over the years.


Or you could even try something a little more creative, like Will Shannon‘s Chip-Board Factory that transforms unwanted furniture into a paste then used to fabricate new pieces of furniture- bonkers but brilliant.

And for those items that you can’t find a second home for, or that are difficult to recycle, the Bank Locator can point you in the direction of your local recycling point. Simply enter your postcode and the material you want to recycle and it will tell you where to go. Very handy indeed.


So, if it really is time to get yourself a new kitchen, now you know there are plenty of better options than simply throwing the old one in a skip. Just think of them as raw ingredients that could make a delicious piece of furniture for somebody else.