Though legal restrictions are in place to prevent
dumping of appliances, many appliances that could be recycled
are discarded. Recycling old appliances benefits consumers
financially, decreases the exposure of potentially harmful
chemicals and prevents excess materials from adding to landfill
Appliances contain refrigerants
and foam-blowing agents that, if emitted into the atmosphere,
have been shown to deplete the ozone layer.
Recycling allows for proper reclamation and disposal of
Recycling appliances prevents
material waste, like plastic, glass, and metal, from being
dumped into landfills.
Hazard wastes, such as compressor
oils, chemicals from capacitors, and mercury from thermostat
switches, can also be properly handled and disposed.
Recycling appliances helps saves
on energy bills.
Older appliance units can cost up to twice as much to operate
than a newer, energy efficient model.
Up to 98 percent of appliances are
recycleable, with only 2 percent going to landfills.
APPLIANCE RECYCLING PROCESS & PRACTICE
The EPA promotes participation in
Resposible Appliance Disposal, which requires responsible,
guided disposal of hazardous waste and materials.
1. Old appliances are hauled to a landfill or waste collection facility. Individual consumers may transport their own appliance, but retailers and independent haulers also offer transport services of old appliances. Some areas may offer curbside pick-up of appliances, with some restrictions.
2. Appliances are then dismantled, either fully or in part. The following materials and chemicals obtained from an appliance requires special handling and disposal:
CFC Refrigerant: Held within a cylindrical tube that is pierced, this chemical is removed and transferred to a storage tank to prevent emission. The refrigerant is then sent to special processors for disposal.
Capacitors: Most capacitors, when found, are removable with standard hand tools. Some older model capacitors contain PCB (a toxic substance), which must be disposed of within one year of removal.
Compressor Oil : A small hole is drilled in an oil reservoir, allowing the oil to drain into an approved container.
After dismantling, some processors may crush or bale
the body of the appliance, increasing the ease of transport.
Bales or whole appliances are then shredded, usually by
an off-site auto shredding company, into basball sized scraps of
Shredded metal is separated by type and sold for
recycling and production of new products.
During the shredding process, a mixture of plastic,
rubber, and foam pieces called “fluff” is also produced and is
usually treated and sold as landfill cover.
PROMOTING APPLIANCE RECYCLING
Retailers and recyclers can jointly promote appliance recycling. Consider offering special haul-away offers or discounts for old appliances that are being replaced with new purchases.
Recyling companies can encourage consumers to recycle any appliance made before 1993. Proactive incentives could decrease the number of old appliances in circulation, as older models are often donated or remained stored at a residence.
Recycling companies and RDA partners should consider marketing and proactive outreach through advertisements, websites, and point of sale flyers to inform consumers.
Recyclers can create a request system for pick-ups,
either through telephone or online.
Research shows that pick-ups scheduled within 3 to 5 days
are most successful.
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