Appliance Recycling is a Cool Way to Protect the Environment

Focus on Energy recycles about 95 percent of the materials in each refrigerator or freezer and safely disposes of the toxins and chlorofluorocarbon gases from foam insulation. By recycling just 25,000 refrigerators, we can:

  • Save 75,000 lbs. of aluminum that could yield nearly 2.1 million aluminum cans.
  • Prevent an amount of carbon dioxide emissions equal to removing 50,000 cars from the road for a year.
  • Keep 250,000 lbs. of foam insulation from ending up in landfills. This would eliminate a landfill more than 10 ft. deep covering an entire football field.

Here’s how Focus on Energy Trade Allies recycle old refrigerators and freezers:

  1. METALS AND PLASTICS:  Remove interior metal and plastic (crispers and shelves) and recycle. Approximately 150 lbs. of metal and 25 lbs. of plastic is recycled.
  2. GLASS: Remove and crush glass shelving and ship to nearby glass recycler. On average, 3 lbs. of glass is contained in each refrigerator. Glass is typically used as aggregate material in concrete as it is tempered and cannot be mixed with typical container glass waste streams.
  3. REFRIGERATOR UNIT: Cut appliance into multiple pieces so metal, plastic and foam can be separated. Ship separated plastics and metals to a local handler for resale in recycled commodities markets. Place foam in large plastic bags and seal to prevent escape of gasses.
  4. POLYURETHANE FOAM INSULATION: Bagged polyurethane foam insulation is shipped to nearby waste-to-energy incinerators for complete and safe destruction. Each refrigerator contains approximately 10 lbs. of polyurethane foam and approximately one pound of CFC-11.
  5. OILS AND REFRIGERANT: Puncture cooling circuit to simultaneously evacuate refrigerant (CFC-12 or HFC-134a) and refrigerant-contaminated compressor oils. Heat oils to distill refrigerant. Refrigerant is shipped to qualified handler, while the oils can be recycled for use in other industrial equipment.
  6. COMPRESSOR: Remove capacitor for recycling. Capacitors suspected of containing PCBs are shipped to qualified
handler for proper destruction.
  7. MERCURY CONTAINING DEVICES: Remove mercury-containing switches and thermostats and ship to a qualified handler for recycling.