How to dispose of a refrigerator

Luna Aston / Mon, 27 Jun 2022 15:00 GMT
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A refrigerator is a staple in every house hold. Its ability to keep fresh foods edible for longer is a necessity. Although a fundamental appliance in our homes they are unfortunately, a bane on society. Refrigerators contribute an excessive amount to global CO2 emissions; with inaccurate disposal being at the forefront. It is therefore essential to dispose of your fridge correctly.

Why are fridges bad for the environment?

Fridges have been a problem for many years although are getting better over time. They used to contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). It was discovered that these chemicals were a large contributor to the depletion of the ozone layer. This prompted a world wide effort to cease the use of these chemicals.

Then came the introduction of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). With HFC-134a being the most commonly found in household fridges. These chemicals break down the ozone layer to a much lesser extent than CFCs. However pose a threat as highly potent greenhouse gasses. As a comparison, your average fridge contains 0.05kg - 0.25kg of refrigerant. In terms of global warming potential, this is the equivalent of a medium sized car traveling between 675km - 3,427km.

CFCs, HFCs and HCFCs have, to date, contributed around 11% to the world's total global warming emissions.

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Can a fridge be recycled?

Thankfully these high polluters can to be recycled. The toxic chemical, either CFC or HFC, can be carefully extracted, purified and are able to be reused. Or are turned into other substances; which supress their negative effect on the environment.

The plastic and metal elements of the fridge are smashed down into tiny pieces and separated. Fridges are made from virgin polymer; which is a type of food grade plastic. This type of plastics reusability is currently limited. However, being able to make the production of fridges into a circular economy is being looked into. Which would mean your old fridge could be turned into a brand new one.

can a fridge be recycled

What to do with an old fridge that doesn't work?

Firstly, look to get it repaired. There's no point in discarding a fridge if it still has potential to work. If you have confirmed it isn't able to be saved; then you will need to look into disposing of it correctly and safely.

To dispose of a refrigerator you can:

  • Have it collected by a reputable waste company.
  • Arrange for your local authority to collect it.
  • Take it to your local recycling or hazardous waste centre.
  • If purchasing a new fridge, have the company collect the old one while delivering the new.

Disposal of a refrigerator can often incur a charge. Options for free fridge disposal can be found below.

This information is also relevant for freezer disposal. Click here for more information on how to dispose of a freezer

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Can you take a refrigerator to the dump?

Your local dump or recycling centre is more than likely to accept your refrigerator. But possibly not at some smaller sites; so do check with them first. The other think to note is that they may charge a small fee.

can you take a refrigerator to the dump

Where can I dispose of my old refrigerator for free?

There are some options when it comes to free fridge disposal; but they are few and far between.

In the US you can arrange for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collect your unwanted refrigerator for free.

Similarly some places in the UK will take them for free and will collect. But most usually expect you to transport it yourself; for example taking it to a hazardous waste facility.

When purchasing a new one, some companies will offer to collect your old fridge when buying a new one from them. This is a worthwhile thing to consider if you are looking to buy a new fridge.

Some charities will accept unwanted refrigerators and collect them for free. But it has to be in good working condition; as they will be looking to sell it on.

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What to do with an old fridge that works?

If you are looking to get rid of a fridge or disposing of a mini fridge that still works; you should always try to find a way to give it a second home rather than just disposing for it.

Here are some options of what to do with a working fridge:

  • Offer it up to family and friends.
  • Sell it online on sites such as Gumtree, Craigslist or Facebook Market Place.
  • Donate it to charity.
  • Give it to someone in need.
  • Sell it to a second hand dealer.

Fridge removal and transportation

If you are looking to transport your fridge either to its new home or to be disposed of; it's important to treat it with care. The toxic chemicals in refrigerators can mix or leak if not manoeuvre carefully.

When moving a fridge you should:

  • Turn off and unplug the fridge 24 hours before removal.
  • When moving, do so in an upright or only slightly tilted position.
  • Preferably use a wheeled trolley when manoeuvring to avoid any jolty movements.
  • Place upright in the vehicle you are using to transport. Never lay a fridge down on its side.
  • After moving you should wait at least 4 hours before plugging in and turning on your fridge.
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Eco friendly fridges

When looking to purchase a new refrigerator why not opt for an eco-friendly version. Some manufacturers have started to produce fridges using natural refrigerants. These contribute little or no harmful emissions to the planet.

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