Recycling breast pumps

Selling used breast pump

Facebook post in moms group selling a used breast pump.

Most moms have one or maybe even two. Breast pumps help us feed our babies our liquid gold. However, once you use it you are not supposed to share it. So what do you do with a used breast pump?

While most insurance companies now cover the cost of a basic pump, you still may have an out-of-pocket cost for supplies or upgrades. If you have to pay for the pump, it makes sense to re-sell it to recover some money. However, there are health and safety issues with sharing breast pumps. So the noisy, clunky machine collects dust in a corner of your house.  Many moms simply don’t know what to do with their used pump. Medela recently started a recycling program so those square plastic machines don’t end up in a landfill.

Buying & selling used breast pumps

Most baby items are hot commodities at garage sales or online marketplaces, so it seems logical to try to sell your breast pump. After all, it’s one of the more expensive baby items at $200+ per pump. Some moms barely use their pump. However, the pump is unlike any other baby item. There are serious health and safety concerns to consider before buying or selling a used breast pump.

There are breast pumps for sale in moms groups all the time. I can understand why a mom posts hers for sale or wants to buy a used one. They’re expensive, and hospitals rent & reuse breast pumps so why not the ones we have in our homes? You can’t compare the two pumps because they are designed differently. Hospital or rented pumps are designed so the milk never touches the pumping system. It’s a closed system.

Most of the pumps moms purchase are open systems where the pump motor is exposed to milk. La Leche League International says even if you buy new components, another mom’s milk particles will be mixed in with your milk every time the machine pumps. That can allow viruses to transfer from one mom to another baby.

You can have viruses in your milk without knowing it, so you really need to be careful. There are horror stories out there in moms groups. The last thing you want is your baby getting sick to save a couple hundred bucks or earn a couple hundred bucks.

Recycling breast pumps

If it’s not smart to sell the breast pump, what do you do with it? It seems wasteful to only use the machine a few times or for a few months. Medela offers to recycle electric pumps. You mail back the machine and power cord to Medela Recycles. All the other components can be recycled locally.

You can’t return manual pumps through the program. Medela advises you put that in your local recycling bin as well.

Medela says the pumps are broken down and some parts are recycled, but those recycled parts will not be used for manufacturing.

All you need to do is fill out a Medela online shipping label.

Hygeia also offers a recycling program called “No Pumps in Dumps.” Their pumps are designed a little differently than Medela. They use a closed system like hospitals so the milk never comes in close contact with the pump motor so more than one person can use it. With Hygeia pumps, there’s a filter to prevent cross-contamination.

The company still replaces the personal accessory kit, but the pump itself is reused. You can also sell or give the used pump to a friend as long as the personal accessory kit is replaced.

While Medela is the brand many moms choose, there is competition. Unfortunately, there simply are not enough recycling programs through the other manufacturers. Medela’s program is fairly new. These pumps need to be redesigned or recycling programs should be required because it’s a question I see so often in mom’s groups. “What do I do with my used breast pump?”

What do you think about breast pumps becoming worthless after you use it one time?

 

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