After I finished pumping, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my breast pump. It still worked, so I decided to look into donating it. I found out that the non-profits I asked would not accept a used breast pump, so I decided to research how to recycle my breast pump.
So, how do you donate or recycle a breast pump? Nonprofits will not accept donated breast pumps. To recycle a breast pump, contact your local city’s recycling program to find an electronics or small appliance recycling program. Plastic pump parts can be put in the household recycling bin. Some pump companies also have recycling programs.
I did some research to find out why most organizations will not accept a used breast pump. Because I wasn’t able to donate it, I looked into recycling programs.
I found out that it is important to dispose of a breast pump and accessories properly so the electronic items do not leach into the environment in a landfill. I also discovered a few of the breast pump accessories can be recycled and others cannot.
Can I Donate A Breast Pump?
Most organizations and non-profits will not accept used breast pumps. An organization like a women’s shelter, Salvation Army, or WIC will not accept a donation of a used breast pump.
These types of organizations do not want to accept a potentially contaminated used breast pump and provide it to another mother. This is because there is always a small danger that the used breast pump may have bacteria or viruses that could make another baby sick.
I was disappointed when I found out that I couldn’t donate my used breast pump. It seemed to me that the pump was working perfectly fine, and another mother could benefit from it. After I researched the FDA recommendation, I understood why organizations would not accept a donation of a used breast pump.
Small babies do not have developed immune systems that an older child or an adult would have. This is why organizations like the FDA are cautious and do not recommend that pumps be shared between multiple users. Nobody wants a baby to get sick because they drank milk that was pumped with a contaminated pump.
Does Goodwill Take Breast Pumps?
No, Goodwill will not accept breast pumps. This is likely due to the FDA’s determination that breast pumps can only be used safely used as single-user devices.
How to Recycle A Spectra Breast Pump
To recycle a Spectra breast pump you can look for a PC or appliance recycling locations near your home. I was able to find one by going to my city’s website. then I found the contact information for the waste management and recycling company in my city.
My city has an electronic recycling program where they accept small electronics and small appliances. The first thing I did was go to my city’s website. On their website, they had information about waste management and recycling programs.
I called the company that was listed under recycling programs. Then, I asked them if they accepted small electronics or small appliances. The recycling company told me that they did not accept these items in household recycling. Even though I couldn’t place them in my recycling bin, I could drop them off at two of the larger recycling centers in the city.
I drove to the recycling center that accepted small electronics and I was able to recycle my breast pump at that location.
When I contacted Spectra, they told me that Spectra does not have a recycling program of its own. On their website, Spectra recommends taking your breast pump to a PC or appliance recycling location.
Can a Spectra Breast Pump Be Used By Multiple Women?
No, Spectra breast pumps should not be used by more than one person. According to the FDA, breast pumps should not be used by multiple women. The FDA considers breast pumps, even closed-system pumps, as single user devices. This is because you cannot tell if the pump has been disinfected after it has been used.
Spectra pumps are designed as closed system pumps. They have backflow protectors to prevent milk from contaminating the pump motor.
If you are interested in donating your breast pump, you may have difficulty finding a place that will accept a donation of a breast pump. This is because a breast pump is considered medical equipment. Most nonprofit organizations do not want to take on the liability of re-selling or providing a used breast pump to a new mother.
How to Recycle A Medela Breast Pump
Medela offers a recycling program for their breast pumps called the Medela Recycles program. To recycle through the Medela Recycle’s program, first, contact Medela. Tell their customer service that you are interested in recycling your breast pump. They will give you a shipping label. This shipping label should then be used to send your pump back to Medela. It is an address label with a return tracking number on the label.
Medela does not charge a fee for recycling pumps. The drawback to this program is that you will have to pay the shipping charges to send your pump to Medela. Unfortunately, Medela does not cover the cost of shipping the breast pump back to their recycling facility. Even though they do not charge for the program, by using the recycling program you know that your pump will be recycled in a responsible manner.
Medela’s recycling program is provided as a convenience to their customers. They do not re-use any of the pumps that are sent back to Medela through their recycling program. Medela also does not accept breast pumps from other manufacturers into their recycling program.
Medela will accept any of the Medela electric pumps. If you do not have an electric pump and you have a manual Medela hand pump, it should not be sent back to Medela through the mail. Manual hand pumps like the Medela Harmony can be put in normal household recycling.
If you are not interested in shipping your pump back to Medela, you can try some of the same options listed above for recycling a Spectra pump. Your city may have a small appliance or electronic recycling program that will accept your breast pump.
Can a Medela Breast Pump Be Used By Multiple Women?
Medela breast pumps that are not hospital grade cannot be used by multiple women. This is because Medela pumps such as the Medela Pump In Style Advanced are open system pumps. They do not have a mechanism to prevent milk from getting into the pump motor. Breast milk is made of water, fat, and sugar. If milk gets into the pump motor, it can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.
Because these breast pumps are open system pumps, it is not hygienic for more than one person to use the pump.
Most of the Medela breast pumps that you buy through your insurance or buy in a store fall into this category of single-user open-system pumps. This includes the Medela Pump In Style Advanced, the Medela Freestyle, the Medela Sonata, and the Medela Swing breast pumps.
The Medela Symphony is a hospital grade pump and it can be used by multiple women. This is a closed system pump and it has a mechanism to prevent milk from getting into the pump motor.
How to Recycle Breast Pump Parts
Some of the breast pump parts and accessories can be recycled. The hard plastic pump parts like the breast shields, flanges, connectors, and bottles can be put in your normal household recycling bin. Typically these parts are clear hard plastic.
The soft silicone breast pump parts and accessories cannot be recycled. This includes the membranes, duckbill valves, backflow protectors, and tubing. Typically these parts are soft because they are made from silicone. They may be white or clear. The silicone parts should be thrown in the trash because it is not hygienic to reuse them and they cannot be recycled.
How to Recycle Ameda or Lansinoh Breast Pumps
To recycle one of these pumps, look for an electronic recycling center in your city that will accept PCs or small appliances. A recycling center which accepts small electronics may accept your Ameda or Lansinoh breast pump.
How To Recycle A Hygeia Breast Pump
Hygeia offers a recycling program through their company. You can contact Hygeia’s customer service number and ask them for the correct address to ship the pump once you have finished using it.
If you do not wish to pay for shipping the Hygeia pump back to the manufacturer, then you can contact your local city. Find a small appliance or electronics recycling center near where you live and drop off the pump at the recycling center.
Why Is It Important To Recycle Breast Pumps?
It is important to recycle a breast pump instead of putting it in the trash. This is because breast pumps have electronic components. Some breast pumps have rechargeable batteries inside them. These batteries are dangerous if they leak into the environment, such as soil or groundwater when they are in a landfill.
Can Baby Bottles Be Recycled?
The hard plastic pieces of baby bottles can usually be recycled in your household recycling bin. Look for the recycling symbol on the bottom of the bottle. Soft silicone nipples cannot be recycled and they should be disposed of in the trash.
Can I Sell A Used Breast Pump?
It is not recommended to sell a used single-user breast pump. The only types of breast pumps that are safe for multiple users are hospital grade breast pumps. Some examples of hospital grade breast pumps are the Medela Symphony, the Ameda Platinum, and the Medela Lactina pumps.
This was also disappointing to me because a breast pump is expensive and a mother may want to try to recover some of the expense. However, the risks of using a contaminated pump are too high. Thankfully, many women are able to find a free pump through their health insurance plan.
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How Can I Get A Free Breast Pump Through Insurance?
The first step is to call your health insurance plan and determine the medical equipment suppliers that they work with. The next step is to contact the medical equipment supplier, and they will provide you with a list of the breast pumps that your insurance plan covers. Select a pump, and it will be shipped to you.
You can obtain a free breast pump through insurance due to the Affordable Care Act. This legislation requires health insurance companies to provide a breast pump to mothers. The coverage can vary based on the individual health plan.
Questions To Ask Your Health Insurance Plan:
- What types of breast pumps or breastfeeding support services are covered?
- Are visits with a lactation consultant covered under my health insurance plan?
- Are breast milk bags or replacement parts covered under my plan?
- Do I need to go through a specific company to purchase the breast pump?
- If I purchase or rent a breast pump, can I submit it for reimbursement?
- If I submit receipts for reimbursement, is there a dollar limit for coverage for the breast pump?
- If I purchase or rent a breast pump on my own, will it be considered out-of-network?
How Can You Get A Free Breast Pump Without Insurance?
If you do not have health insurance, you may qualify for a breast pump through Medicaid or through WIC (Women, Infant, and Child) assistance. WIC is a program that provides assistance to low income pregnant and breastfeeding women. WIC also provides assistance to children under the age of five years old.
WIC programs are different by state and each state has its own rules. WIC may be able to provide a breast pump if you have a doctor’s prescription. This may be the case when there is a medical reason. Medical reasons may include if your baby was born prematurely, or if your baby was born with a medical condition such as a cleft lip or cleft palate. WIC may also provide a breast pump if the mother is returning to work or to school.
If WIC cannot provide a breast pump, Medicaid is an alternative for a breast pump. You may also need a doctor’s prescription for a breast pump through Medicaid depending on the rules for your state’s Medicaid program.