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How Do They Recycle A Refrigerator?

How Do They Recycle A Refrigerator?


We often think of cans, bottles and paper when it comes to recycling. But can they really recycle a refrigerator?

The answer is "Yes!" and you can contribute to this highly beneficial process when you get rid of your old refrigerator. 

Protecting the Environment: Refrigerator Recycling

There's other reasons for recycling refrigerators than simply reusing the materials they're made of. The process is also instrumental in keeping harmful materials out of the ground and out of the atmosphere. 

This is why, when recycling refrigerators, one of the first things that has to happen is to remove all the "bad" stuff from the refrigerator.


As the Energy Star website points out,

"Refrigerators and freezers contain refrigerants, oils, and other compounds that, by federal law, must be removed and recovered. Then the steel, other metals, and selected parts can be recycled. Some recycling programs also capture the foam insulation inside the refrigerator doors for added environmental benefits."

These include ozone-destroying compounds, especially in those appliances manufactured before 1995. The EPA states these household refrigerators and freezers typically contain a refrigerant known as chlorofluorocarbon (CFC). 

Many people are familiar with the term "freon", but not many realize that Freon is a brand name for the refrigerants known as R-12, R-13B1, R-22, R-410A, R-502, and R-503 manufactured by The Chemours Company. Freon is a type of chlorofluorocarbon.

Are old refrigerators really that much of a hazard?

Well, according to a Los Angeles Times article,

"A single refrigerator contains chemicals with the greenhouse gas equivalent of 5 tons of carbon dioxide — roughly the same emissions as a passenger car driven for 10,000 miles, according to Michael Dunham, director of energy and environmental programs for Jaco Environmental."

In addition to potentially hazardous coolants, these appliances contain various oils. For example, many of the capacitors that are found in the refrigerator motor contain PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyl, which a probable human carcinogen, so they’re removed and sent to a hazardous materials facility. 

After the toxic stuff is safely removed and properly disposed of, then the various materials that make up a typical refrigerator are removed and processed.



Breaking It Down: Refrigerator Recycling

Aside from the hazardous materials, what's inside an old refrigerator?

Well, let's assume we have disposed of an average-sized refrigerator that was 20 years old. And let's say it weighed in at 200 pounds. Here's a break down of the solid materials that make up the various components of a refrigerator.

First, there's the metals:

  • 125 pounds of steel
  • 5 pounds of aluminum
  • 3 to 5 pounds of copper

Then you have some foam:

  • 10 pounds of polyurethane foam insulation

Oh, and the glass:

  • 10 to 12 pounds of tempered glass in the shelving

And, finally, some plastic:

  • 25 pounds of ABS plastic of interior lining

Most of this dismantling is done manually and the various materials are often shipped off to other specialty facilities for processing, such as the tempered glass and the ABS plastic. Even the old refrigerants are typically captured in containers and shipped to plants for proper disposal.



[graphic courtesy of GreenNewton]

It's estimated that approximately 90 percent or more of a typical refrigerator can be recycled effectively. This is hugely beneficial in a number of ways, not the least being the reduced impact on the environment and the economy - both the country's and your own!

The EPA spells out the benefits for us,

"That old fridge or freezer is taking up space in your garage or basement. Replacing it could save you up to $50 a year in energy costs. Plus, there are significant benefits for the environment and your community if you get rid of that old appliance—the RAD way. Specifically, the proper disposal of an old fridge or freezer will:

  • Reduce your household energy consumption, which will save you money and prevent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Avoid the release of ozone depleting substances (ODS) and GHGs, which contribute to ozone depletion and climate change
  • Save landfill space and energy by recycling—rather than landfilling—the metals, plastics, and glass contained in your appliance
  • Avoid the release of used oil, which can cause damage to the liver, brain, immune system, and reproductive system
  • Avoid the release of mercury, which can lead to impairment of neurological development and other problems associated with the human nervous system
  • Avoid the release of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which can have carcinogenic and non-cancerous health effects"



Get Your Refrigerator Recycling Taken Care of Today!

Junk King provides an efficient, safe, and eco-friendly refrigerator removal and recycling service.

With Junk King you don’t have to worry about the pickup or disposal of your used refrigerator. And because our priority is preserving the environment, we will make sure that your old refrigerator ends up in the right place, whether that’s a local charity, or a recycling facility.

So contact us for all your appliance disposal needs. Scheduling your refrigerator recycling pick-up is as simple as 1, 2, 3.

You can make an appointment by booking online or by calling 1.888.888.JUNK (5865). Our professional and insured appliance removal team will show up at your home and we call 15 minutes before we arrive on site.

Once there, we’ll give you a free estimate based on how much room your appliances take up in our truck. You point and we haul those items into our junk removal trucks, with no hidden fees.



How Do They Recycle A Refrigerator?


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