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Air Conditioner Recycling

Your old air conditioner finally kicked the bucket and is taking up valuable space. What do you do next? Haul it up the stairs and throw it away? Call your neighbor to see if he can try to fix it?

Guess what. There’s a much more responsible way to dispose of your broken air conditioning unit.

Consider recycling it at Cohen.

Stipulations for Recycling Air Conditioning Units:

If the air conditioning unit is intact, including the compressor and/or intact coolant lines, there is a $15 handling charge per unit. This is to cover costs associated with properly draining the hazardous coolant gases that these units contain.

If the unit has already been dismantled and/or drained, the customer must sign a document that includes the name of the person or company that removed the coolant, and will be paid the scrap value of the unit. 

We strongly recommend having your unit prepared by a professional who can properly capture and dispose of the hazardous gases.

Do Air Conditioners Contain Harmful Substances?

Yes. All air conditioning units contain harmful cooling refrigerants. 

Most units contain an ozone-destroying material known as hydrochlorofluorocarbon 200 (HCFC). This potent refrigerant contributes negatively to global climate change because of the greenhouse gases present.

Freon, perhaps the most notable cooling refrigerant, can also cause irreparable damage to the environment once it leaks from old, broken appliances. Read about the U.S. ban on freon that took effect in 2020.

Should I Remove the Air Conditioner Myself?

Only experienced professionals should handle the removal of air conditioners that aren’t wall or window units. The dangerous liquids and associated tubes and compartments need to undergo proper disposal. An EPA-licensed technician will need to recover the potentially hazardous refrigerant from the system, handling the freon line with care. If this line is damaged, the caustic fluid will leak, causing harm to the environment.

Why is it Illegal to Throw Away My Air Conditioner?

The potential chemical damage caused by freon and other refrigerants resulted in a nationwide ban on the disposal of these liquids in landfills. 

This is a federal law and should be taken seriously.

Common Types of Refrigerants:

• R-22 refrigerants: These are typically present in older models. Because of their destructive properties, there have been steps taken to reduce the amount of toxicity in these materials. This includes freon. 

• R410A refrigerants: These are typically present in newer models and are the result of years of testing and experimentation. This product is less harmful than R-22, and it passes EPA standards, but it still must be captured properly from retired units. 

If you have an air conditioning unit or other appliance that currently uses Freon, you do NOT have to replace or stop using your system right away. However, as the production and import of Freon ceases, those still using older units will have to rely on the reclaimed, recycled, stockpiled and previously produced quantities of the refrigerant to service their systems. These limited supplies of Freon will become more and more expensive as it is phased out.

What Recyclable Materials are Present in Air Conditioners?

  • Sheet Metal
  • Aluminum
  • Plastic
  • Copper

There are many types of metals and plastics that make up the components of air conditioners. However, aluminum is most frequently used because of its resistance to corrosion. 

The tubing in modern components is typically made of copper or, once again, aluminum. These materials are utilized because they increase system efficiency and exhibit fantastic thermal transferring capabilities.

While plastics aren’t utilized for system efficiency, they’ve been implemented recently in an effort to cut cost and reduce appliance weight. 

Sheet metal typically covers and encases the refrigeration system. This is usually painted or powdered to prevent deterioration or rusting caused by external elements. 

What Size of Air Conditioner Can Be Recycled?

Any size, brand, type, and age of air conditioner will have recyclable materials. 

Window units, ductless, and installed conditioners can be taken to and disposed of properly at Cohen.

Designing Air Conditioners for a Cleaner Future

The first recorded instance of modern-day air conditioning happened on July 17th, 1902 in Buffalo, New York.

The first model was designed invented by Willis Carrier who was employed at the Buffalo Forge Company. 

His goal was to solve a humidity and paper quality issue for the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company.

The poor quality of the air interrupted the printing process and had a negative impact on the final printed paper product. Humidity ruined a substantial percentage of the paper on the assembly line, and this air conditioning procedure improved the quality of the product the company was distributing.

So after he successfully implemented the new filtration and conditioning system, the process smoothened.

Since then, air conditioning has become a necessity for most commercial and residential environments.

For most residential air conditioners, air is filtered from the outside, and it’s sent through an expansion compartment. The air’s temperature is drastically decreased due to its expansion in a larger volume container. Then the air passes over a cooling coil that drops the temperature even further. Then the fan pushes out the cool air into your room.

However, new initiatives to create greener air conditioning units have risen in recent years.

Appliance designers and manufacturers are constantly trying to figure out ways to improve efficiency, reduce price, and decrease the potential harm to the environment.

This is because air conditioning is no longer considered a want, but a need, for both residential and commercial locations.

Next Steps

Through air conditioner recycling, we’re taking steps to reduce our carbon footprint, preventing the deterioration of the ozone layer, and promoting a healthier environment for us all. 

Let Cohen properly recycle your air conditioner.