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2209 De Chus P01

X-ray recycling: The age-old dilemma

Aug. 9, 2022
Here is some of the most practical advice dentists can receive about how to handle the disposal of old equipment such as panoramic machines and x-ray equipment. Done right, it's easy!

One of the biggest dilemmas many dentists face is finding viable outlets for disposal of large or hazardous equipment. Finding value and a resource for old dental equipment can be a challenge. The number one struggle for many seems to be proper disposal of panoramic machines and x-ray equipment.

Before I dive into suggestions, I suggest that you try to determine the value of your panoramic unit. Before deciding whether to sell or donate it, you need to define its value and your goals. The best way to do this is to contact equipment companies that deal with preowned units to obtain an accurate secondary value. If you want to spend the time to obtain full value, consider selling on secondary markets at the accurate value. If the value is irrelevant and reclaimed space is what you want, consider these following suggestions.

Negotiate removal of old pano when buying a new CBCT

One of the main reasons practices want to get rid of an old pano is to make room for a new CBCT unit. If this is the case, contact your dealer and negotiate the removal of your old pano. In many cases, the company may be open to hauling away your old one at no cost in exchange for you purchasing through them. 

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Put it out for the dental community to see

The online dental community is huge and is an excellent way to reach your fellow dental professionals. You can potentially get rid of your unit by posting it on social media, local dental forums, and asking in the communities you take part in. Many practices have good luck posting their old panoramic units on Facebook groups such as Nifty Thrifty and Dental Garage Sale. Some have great experiences listing on various dental classifieds. If you’re looking to move your old pano quickly, these groups can work wonders. 

See if a donation is possible

Donating your old pano can be a great way to get a tax write-off and help somebody in need. I suggest contacting an area dental school and asking if they would be able to use your old unit. If not, try contacting free or sliding fee clinics in your area. Also, many nonprofit organizations are often more than happy to take your unit.

Depending on if you can deliver, you might be able to find organizations, such as dental assisting schools and charitable organizations, that would like to take your old pano. If you can't find any, use dental forums or Facebook groups to ask for recommendations. You can also obtain information from offices or individuals who may have experienced a similar situation. 

Dispose of the unit

The last resort for disposing of your old pano or CBCT unit is to properly decommission and recycle the unit. I recommend this only if there are no other options and your unit is no longer functioning. Most panoramic units contain hazardous materials and must be disposed of responsibly. Seek an x-ray recycling company to do this on your behalf.

If this is not possible, you can piece it out yourself before recycling the nonhazardous parts. Decommission the unit by cutting the cord and removing it, removing the tungsten, and cutting the head. Contact scrappers or recyclers after you’ve removed these parts. Also, scrappers and recycling companies often check free classifieds such as Craigslist, where you may find it helpful to post the unit at no cost, with pickup arranged. Also, search for a local recycling company that takes x-rays and film imaging equipment.

Pay to have it hauled

Although it can be very costly, if all other methods have failed, you can call companies such as Henry Schein or Patterson Dental and use their hauling services to dispose of your old pano. Although you must pay to have your pano removed, you will have peace of mind, as well as new space in your office for opportunity. 

Editor's note: This article appeared in the August 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.