Refrigerators

Why Should I Recycle My Used Refrigerator?

  • It’s actually illegal to throw away refrigerators.
  • The valuable appliance components may yield a monetary return if recycled.

Why is it Illegal to Throw Away My Refrigerator?

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. 

  • R410A refrigerants: These are typically present in newer models and are the result of years of testing and experimentation. This product is technically less harmful than R-22, and it passes EPA standards. Unfortunately, this refrigerant can still negatively impact the environment and is still a concern if dealt with improperly.

Other Liquid Materials:

  • Mercury – most units produced before the year 2000 will contain trace amounts of mercury 
  • Compressor Oil all instances of compressor oil must be extracted before the recycling process can begin.

What Recyclable Materials are Present in Refrigerators?

  • Sheet Metal
  • Aluminum
  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Copper

There are many types of metals and plastics that make up the components of refrigerators. 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 and rusting caused by external elements. 

Can I Remove the Refrigerator Myself?

Only experienced professionals should handle the removal of refrigerators. Do not dispose of the outdated appliance yourself unless you’ve been properly trained.

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 any liquid refrigerant lines with care. If these lines are damaged, the caustic fluid will leak, causing harm to the environment.

What Size of Refrigerator Can Be Recycled?

Any size, brand, type, and age of refrigerator will have recyclable materials.  Cohen will anything from mini-fridges to full, modern, double-door refrigerators.

The larger refrigerators will typically provide you with more value for your scrap, due to the fact there is simply more valuable metal and plastic.

Stipulations for Recycling Refrigerators:

If the refrigerator is intact, including the compressor and/or intact coolant lines, there is a $10 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.

How Does Refrigeration Actually Work?

There are typically five elements that interact during the refrigeration process. The fluid refrigerant, an expansion device, a compressor, the condenser coils, and evaporator coils. These five elements are continuously working together to provide you with a properly-cooled fridge and fresh food!

Here’s a quick guide to understanding the refrigeration process.

1.)The refrigerant vapor is condensed by the compressor, which increases the vapor’s temperature. The compressor then sends the vapor to the cooling coils. 

2.) A phase change occurs as the hot gas from the coils comes in contact with the cool air from your kitchen. The heated gas transforms into a liquid.

3.) The liquid, now under higher pressure, is guided along the coils in the refrigerator (and freezer) to begin the cooling process.

4.) This refrigerant then absorbs heat from the fridge. This offers a cool, dry environment, which is exactly what is needed to prevent food from spoiling and/or rotting.

5.) The second phase change occurs. The liquid reverts back to a gaseous state and returns to the compressor. 

6.) The process starts over.

The History of Modern-Day Refrigeration:

1750’s – The first instance of artificial refrigeration occurred. 

1834 – Modern-day refrigeration surfaced in 1834. The first ice-making machine was invented. 

1913 – Refrigerators were installed in homes for personal use (for ice making purposes).

1923- Frigidaire created the first self-contained refrigeration appliance.

Late 1920s- Freon was introduced to the market.

1940 – Separate compartments were introduced. Food preservation for frozen foods became common. These frozen foods became a hot commodity when they were previously viewed as a luxury.

Designing Refrigerators for a Cleaner Future

New initiatives to create greener refrigeration 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 refrigeration is no longer considered a want, but a need, for both residential and commercial locations.

Next Steps

By recycling these large, potentially hazardous appliances, 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 refrigerator.