How can restaurants sell old equipment?

restaurant kitchen equipment
Photograph: Shutterstock


My trash company wants to charge me an arm and a leg for a special pickup to remove an old broken oven since it won’t fit in the dumpster. Is there a company who will buy it for parts?

– Bakery owner, Philadelphia


The answer to this question varies widely by region and equipment type, but there seem to be a few truths in the used equipment market:

  1. Brand and age matter.
  2. There is not a very robust used spare parts market for restaurant equipment.
  3. Used stainless steel is not a particularly valuable metal for scrap.

In short, be happy if you can get someone to take it off your hands.

James Feustel, account manager and designer for Singer Equipment Co. agrees: “There's no market in it for [equipment] dealers and old partsit's just not worth it.  Some scrappers might take it for nothing, but some do charge for removal.”

Since you describe the oven as both “broken” and “old,” it’s doubtful it will be of value to a used equipment dealer, but I’d recommend starting there. Often old equipment means old and relatively simple technology, meaning it can be feasible for a skilled technician to get it up and running and make it valuable for someone. They are your best bet to buy used equipment for a modest price, or at least offer to haul it away for free, saving you over the carting company.

There is some value for scrap stainless steel as well, though it often means extra work for someone to disassemble and ready it for recycling. Prices vary but are generally around a couple of hundred dollars per ton. Given the expense of hauling, scrap metal companies may give few some money, take the equipment away for free or ask you to pay a fee, but probably much less than the carting company would charge. The other advantage of scrapping the equipment is that you can have some confidence that it will be recycled properly.

Finally, consider asking your replacement equipment vendor if they would be willing to dispose of your previous unit. Feustel says, “I have removed and disposed of old equipment for customers when I've brought in new equipment, mostly as a courtesy.” That can be an additional source of savings that you may not have anticipated—and it doesn’t cost anything to ask.

More on selling or disposing of used equipment here.