Breast pumps are an expensive -- and important -- piece of equipment for many breastfeeding parents. But what happens when you're done with your breast pump -- like not going to have more children done? Do you sell it? Donate it? Recycle it? Trash it? Let's take a look at the options.
Selling Your Used Breast Pump
You spent money on your pump -- it would be nice to see some of that money back in your pocket! Many breast pumps are designed as "single use" pumps, which means that they are not created to be safely used by another person. The reason is, these pumps use what is known as an "open system," which means that there is not a barrier to stop milk (even tiny particles) or moisture from traveling up into the pump's motor. There is no way to fully clean or sterilize these kinds of pumps -- even if the pump's new owner purchases new tubing. The good news is that many, many breast pump brands sell pumps with closed systems. That said, even a closed system pump can be problematic when passing along to someone else. The motor can be weak, which affects the pump's ability to operate as it should, causing less suction. A weak pump can impact a mom's milk supply! If you do consider selling your pump, be sure to let the new user know that it's used and for how long. Many lactation consultants will test your pump's suction for free, which is something you can do before selling.
Donating Your Used Breast Pump
When considering donating your used breast pump, all of the information above applies. You can donate your used pump directly to another family, or seek out an organization that will give it to a mom in need. Be forewarned, however, that many non-profit organizations will not be able to accept a used pump due to liability and health concerns, even if it is a closed system pump. Your best bet is to connect with other moms in your community, or perhaps a church, to find a family in need.
Recycling Your Used Breast Pump
Good news! There are now two pump manufacturers who offer recycling. Medela developed the Medela Recycles program, which allows you to ship your electric Medela pump for free back to the company, where they will then break down the pump and recycle all components appropriately. With each recycled pump Medela receives, they support the donation of new hospital-grade, multi-use breastpumps and supplies to Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®). This helps provide moms with high quality pumps hospital during their stay at a Ronald McDonald House, which helps ease the transition for families caring for a baby in the NICU. The recycled pumps are not re-used or re-sold in any way.
Hygeia, who promotes "No Pumps in Dumps™," also offers a pump recycling program. Depending on your pump's age and model, Hygeia may refurbish the pump and provide it to a mom in need (or work with an agency to do so), or if your pump can't be refurbished, they will recycle it appropriately. Hygeia also recycles pump parts replaced when servicing customers' pumps.
If you own a pump made by one of the many other manufacturers, contact them directly to find out if they offer a way to recycle your pump. If not, recycle your pump's plastic pieces appropriately and then take the electronic components to a facility or business that recycles electronics.
Throwing Away Your Used Breast Pump
With the many safe and eco-friendly options available for getting rid of your breast pump, you don't have to throw it away! And really, you shouldn't -- with the amount of garbage in our landfills, trashing your breast pump is not a good option.