What to Do with Your Old Breast Pump
By the time you finish breastfeeding your child, you and your breast pump will have probably been through many milestones together: late night pumping sessions, perhaps a return to work, and most importantly, nurturing your baby! It makes sense that you wouldn’t want to just toss your trusty companion out when you’re finished with it… so what are your options?
Where to Donate Your Breast Pump
When you’re finished using your pump, donating it may be an option—but only if it’s a closed system pump. Open system pumps don’t have a barrier between your milk and the pump motor, meaning they’re impossible to sanitize. If you’re not sure whether your pump is an open or closed system, check the manufacturer’s website for details. Note that even with a closed system, many charitable organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army still will not accept breast pumps at the risk that medical devices can be contaminated. Your best bet would be to check in with your International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to see whether your pump can be safely donated to another lactating parent in need via Freecycle or Craigslist, or other local organizations accepting breast pump donations.
Sell Your Breast Pump
If you want to sell your breast pump, the same rules apply: check with your IBCLC to make sure your closed system pump is safe for someone else to use, and look for a buyer on Craigslist, in a Facebook or MeetUp group for local parents. Just note that most pump warranties won’t cover anyone but the original owner, so it might be a good idea to let your pump buyer know that they’ll have to buy a new pump (or find an insurance-covered pump through The Lactation Network) if this used one breaks.
Recycle Your Breast Pump
Some breast pump manufacturers, like Medela, have pump recycling programs. Medela Recycles launched in 2015 to give lactating parents an easy, environmentally-friendly solution to breast pump disposal, and the program has now successfully recycled more than 29,000 pumps! If you have a Medela breast pump, you can request a shipping label and then ship your pump and charger to Medela, where they’ll recycle the motor unit, motor housing, and carrying bag. Meanwhile, you can recycle any parts that came into contact with milk (like the connectors, tubing, flanges, bottles, and valves) at home. Medela doesn’t reuse any recycled breast pump components for manufacturing purposes, but they are committed to keeping their breast pumps out of landfills.
Most manufacturers will only recycle their own breast pumps, so if your pump manufacturer doesn’t offer a recycling program, call or email them to let them know that they should start!
Remember, The Lactation Network offers insurance-covered breast pumps at the lowest possible out-of-pocket cost to lactating parents. If it’s not safe to donate your used pump, feel free to help another breastfeeding parent out by spreading the word about us! We’re always here to provide the best care for lactating parents and their babies.