As schools and offices move to eliminate junk food and soda, many are getting rid of their vending machines. Because vending machines are generally made of steel and plastic, you can recycle them. Vending machines are expensive pieces of equipment, so before you decide to recycle one, consider other options for using it to prevent "recycler's remorse." You can sell healthy snacks and beverages, such as pretzels and water bottles, instead of calorie-loaded chips and carbonated drinks.
Unplug the vending machine that you want to recycle. Remove any food or beverages that are in it. The machine must be empty to be recycled.
Clean the vending machine of any dirt or debris before you recycle it. Dirty items can't be recycled into new material. Ensure that your equipment is indeed made of plastic and steel or some other recyclable material before you attempt to recycle it. A sticker or label on the machine should tell you what it is made of. Check the owner's manual for more information about its materials.
Call your county's waste department for information on how to recycle bulky items. If you have a large recycling bin or receptacle and are able to put the machine into the bin, you may do that. If not, ask about the pickup policy for large items. Some counties will have you leave your item on the ground next to your receptacle for pickup. Others may require you to bring your item to a local recycling center that can process large items, or they may schedule a monthly pickup for bulky items instead of a weekly one. Follow the department's guidelines to ensure that you properly dispose of your item.
Bring your vending machine to a local recycling plant, if your county's waste departments instructs you to do so. You will need to provide a photo ID and may have to pay a fee to recycle your machine. Call local recycling plants in advance to find out which accepts vending machines and what if any the fee is.
Talia Kennedy has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in "The New York Times," "San Francisco Chronicle" and "The Sacramento Bee," among others. Kennedy has a master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.