Answering Questions on Recycling Refrigerated Appliances
Today we have fridge freezers, fridges, side-by-side fridge freezers, chest freezers, wine coolers, mini-fridges, air-conditioners, humidifiers and water coolers. They are really convenient and make home and work life uncomplicated. The fact is, fridges and freezers are now taken for granted until it’s time to renew or replace them.
With millions of fridges currently used in Ireland, there are many which get old or damaged. They become waste fridges which are hazardous and require specific treatment. The biggest environmental risks are in the refrigerant in the compressor oil and the blowing agent which is used in the insulating Polyurethane (PU) foam.
When a fridge of any sort comes to the end of its life it’s important that appliance owners, buyers and users play their part in protecting the environment by safeguarding against reckless appliance disposal. It’s worth remembering refrigerated appliances can be hazardous if not recycled correctly by authorised, licensed and experienced recyclers.
Below you will find some of the reasons why!
- Household appliances may contain hazardous components including used oil and mercury. For example, cooling circuits contain oil which can be contaminated with ODS refrigerant. Some refrigerators and chest freezers manufactured before the year 2000 have mercury-containing components (i.e., switches and relays).
- If improperly disposed of, used oil and dissolved refrigerant oil from refrigerated appliances can be released resulting in contaminated soil and/or groundwater.
- Exposure to used oil or dissolved refrigerant can result in health concerns.
- If leaking or damaged appliances are dumped mercury can leak and accumulates in plants and animal life. When consumed by humans this can lead to health concerns.
- A variety of toxic substances (carcinogenic and non-cancerous) when released in a non-controlled environment can cause health concerns for humans.
- The use of refrigerated appliances over the years has increased the risk, of climate change mainly due to the use, and improper disposal of greenhouse gases.
- Refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 2005 are insulated with foam that contains ODS that contribute to both ozone depletion and climate change.
Environmentally responsible disposal?
Electrical appliance retailers offer appliance take-back schemes and sometimes offer pick-up and disposal services with the purchase and delivery of a new model.
Some retailers may allow you to drop off the old appliance at the retail establishment so it is worth checking it out in your area.
Civic amenity sites take dual-purpose home and office electrical items including large household appliances free once you can transport them.
Trained and authorised appliance repair services and service engineers can decommission, remove and sometimes repair, damaged appliances safely.
Home appliance recycling centres such as Recycle IT offer collection, and free drop-off services for large and small electrical appliances.
Almost all the materials used to make your refrigerator or freezer can be recycled. This includes the metal cabinet, plastic liner, glass shelves, the refrigerant and oil in the compressor, and the blowing agent contained in polyurethane foam insulation. Appliance recycling typically entails the recovery of refrigerant and removal of hazardous components followed by shredding of evacuated appliances. It is important to say, refrigerants and compressors should only be removed by trained individuals.
When you recycle with an authorised recycler it means your fridge will be disposed of correctly and not just buried in the ground.
Remember unauthorised curb-side or door-to-door collectors might improperly remove refrigerant or otherwise dispose of the electrical appliance in an unsafe manner so please use an authorised service to recycle your old fridge and other electrical and electronic equipment.
About Recycle IT
Recycle IT is the only Community Electronic Recycling Social Enterprise in Dublin providing a community collection service for all types of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Recycle IT offered collection services to homes and organisations across Dublin and surrounding areas each year collecting a range of WEEE including monitors, televisions and much more.
Our award-winning services are supported by South Dublin Country Council, and South Dublin Country Partnership and provided in partnership with WEEE Ireland. We are authorized by the National Waste Collection Permit Office and the local authority.
Visit our website for further details or learn more about reuse month here