Have you ever stopped to consider where all of the trash that you throw away eventually ends up? Across the United States, there are at least 2,000 active landfills that receive, process and bury the trash that we send out to our curbs for the garbage truck to carry away. Of the roughly 254 million tons of waste that Americans throw out every year, a little bit more than half of that ends up in those landfills across the country. In the United States, we produce about 30 percent of the world´s trash, despite only making up around 4 percent of the world´s population.
Finding ways to move towards a “zero-waste” society, then, is one of the pressing environmental challenges that we face. On an individual level, there are fortunately several things that we can all do to help reduce the amount of waste we create. Starting a backyard compost heap to process our kitchen scraps, leftover meals, and yard waste is one simple strategy to reduce the amount of trash we send out to the curb every week. By simply separating our organic and inorganic wastes, we are also helping to drastically reduce the methane emissions emitted at local landfills, which result from the combination of organic and inorganic residues. Also, cutting back on single-use plastics and packaging is another way to move towards the ideal zero-waste society.
In the case of larger pieces of trash such as refrigerators, televisions, and other appliances, however, finding ways to recycle or repurpose these items can be a bit more difficult. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that around 9 million refrigerators and freezers are thrown out in the United States every year. On top of that, millions of other household appliances also eventually end up taking up an enormous amount of space in landfills around the country each year.
Fortunately, there are several different ways to properly and safely get rid of your used appliances in an environmentally friendly manner. At Junk King San Francisco we are the top-rated junk removal company in the Bay Area because we strive to help individuals, homeowners, business owners, and large industries get rid of all of their bulky items in an efficient, resourceful, and affordable manner.
The Environmental and Health Implications of Proper Disposal of Used Appliances
The vast majority of municipal garbage services across the country have some sort of policy or ordinance that prohibits homeowners from throwing away their used appliances with regular household trash. In the city of San Francisco, it is actually illegal to take your used furniture, appliances, or other bulky items out to the sidewalk. According to the San Francisco Public Works office “sidewalk dumping can result in citations and fines unless you have a scheduled pick up from a licensed hauler or donation facility.”
Why exactly is it illegal in San Francisco (and so many other localities) to attempt to send your used appliances to the county dump? For starters, some appliances might be filled with chemical substances and materials that are extremely harmful to the surrounding environment. The refrigerant material used in refrigerators, for example, either use CFCs (for fridges built before 1995), or HFCs (more recent models). Both CFCs and HFCs are known to be ozone-depleting substances. When released, they also act as a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Studies have shown that HFCs actually have a global warming potential (GWP) that is anywhere between 50 and 14,000 times as high as carbon dioxide! Many of the foam insulation products used in refrigerators also contain high amounts of CFCs or HFCs that are subsequently released into the atmosphere when improperly disposed of.
Furthermore, some refrigerator models might also include trace amounts of heavy metals such as mercury that could potentially leach into surrounding soils and even contaminate water sources. Perhaps even more worrisome, refrigerators that were manufactured before 1980 most likely contain large amounts of PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls in their capacitors. Studies of the effects of PCBs in humans have found increased rates of melanomas, liver cancer, gall bladder cancer, biliary tract cancer, gastrointestinal tract cancer, and brain cancer, and may be linked to breast cancer. Furthermore, PCBs can also accumulate in aquatic ecosystems, potentially making it dangerous to eat fish and other seafood. Not exactly what you want when living next to the ocean.
Other common household appliances can also potentially leak dangerous substances into the surrounding soil and groundwater, including chlorine, fluorine, used oil, refrigerants, and beryllium. Electronic appliances such as TVs, sound systems are now classified as e-waste, which comes with its own set of hazards when landfilled. E-waste most likely contains high levels of toxic components that are dangerous to human health, such as mercury, lead, cadmium, polybrominated flame retardants, barium, and lithium. Just as with PCBs, the negative health effects of these toxins in e-waste can include brain, heart, liver, kidney, and skeletal system damage.
How Can I Safely Get Rid of My Used Appliances?
Despite the obvious hazards associated with improper disposal of household appliances, there are certainly times when upgrading to a newer model of different types of appliances is necessary and warranted. Every appliance will eventually give out and die, and most newer models of appliances are significantly more energy-efficient. When it is time to say goodbye to that old refrigerator or TV, finding a junk removal company that makes every effort to donate or recycle your used appliances should be your first priority.
The State of California has a Certified Appliance Recycle (CAR) Program. Because California law requires that appliances, and certain materials within appliances, be properly handled, the state certifies different recycling agencies to ensure that all hazardous and toxic materials are handled in a healthy and environmentally responsible manner.
For residents of San Francisco, California, Junk King San Francisco has been offering superior junk removal service since 2005. The company has hands-down the best customer service in the San Francisco Bay Area and we are proud to have a 5-star rating on Yelp. At Junk King San Francisco, we maintain a solid relationship with the dozens of state-certified appliance recyclers in the Bay Area and we try to donate all used appliances that are still in usable condition. Unlike other junk removal companies, the company makes every effort to recycle or donate your used appliances.
Once you agree on a price and a date, all of our Junk King´s employees are trained to call you 15 to 30 minutes before every job and make every effort to honor the 2-hour window that you choose for pickup. We offer competitive, up-front and transparent pricing to help you get rid of your used appliances and other bulky junk items in an affordable and efficient manner. Contact Junk King San Francisco today by calling 1-888-5865(JUNK). You can also book online at this link and save $20.