Refrigerator recycling is a complicated but environmentally positive process.

Are you already preparing for spring cleaning? Are you looking for the perfect way to get rid of large and small appliances? Rather than throwing out microwaves, coffeemakers, toasters, ovens and refrigerators, you really should recycle these “brown and white goods.”

refrigerator recycling To some, recycling just seems tedious. It can also seem easier to throw items in the trash — especially large electrical items. However, a variety of countries, states and cities have implemented recycling programs and laws to not only encourage the importance of recycling, but also to benefit the planet. For example, let’s take a look at refrigerators. The recycling process of refrigerators can be quite complicated, but is extremely beneficial to the environment. Thanks to Energy Star, JACO Environmental (a facility that recycles household appliances) and one of JACO’s partners, the Omaha Public Power District, here is a breakdown of the refrigerator recycling process:
  1. The refrigerator unit is cataloged by recording the unit number and utility information.
  2. A core sample is conducted by drilling a 1-inch hole on the unit’s side to detect the type of insulation present (most likely foam).
  3. The Freon, a liquid or gaseous fluorocarbon used as a refrigerant, is removed, along with the oils from the compressor. These oils are usually heated to distill the refrigerant, which is then shipped to a qualified facility that will handle with care. Such oils can be reused in some industrial equipment.
  4. Next, the capacitors that are suspected of containing PCBs are removed and shipped for destruction by a registered hazardous waste incinerator.
  5. The interior shelves, drawers and storage containers are removed. These are then harvested for tempered glass, plastic and metal.
  6. The chassis, or frame, is cut into pieces. The metal, plastic and foam are harvested and separated.
  7. The foam is sealed inside bags, and then shipped off to an incinerator.
Complicated, yes? But, all you have to do is have your refrigerator taken or picked up by a registered recycling business, and the rest is history. In many cases, customers will receive some form of rebate. There are several environmental benefits to recycling refrigerators, including the proper disposal of oils and foam, the proper recycling of steel and aluminum and the avoidance of sending materials like foam, glass and plastic to landfills, where they will sit for years — and potentially destroy the planet. By recycling your refrigerator, the recycled metals, plastics and glass can then be used to create computers, nails, phones, cans and even concrete mixtures. Now that you know the process of recycling refrigerators, take advantage of your local refrigerator-recycling program. Check out our very own recycling location finder and see what is available in your area.