Refrigerators and freezers contain refrigerants, oils, and other compounds that, by federal law, must be removed and recovered. Then the steel, other metals, and selected parts can be recycled. Some recycling programs also capture the foam insulation inside the refrigerator doors for added environmental benefits.
1. Recycle Your Old Fridge or Freezer When You Buy a New ENERGY STAR Model.
Many appliance retailers will pick up and recycle your old fridge or freezer when you purchase a new one. Ask your retailer for assurance that the old unit will be properly recycled and not re-sold as an inefficient, second-hand unit. Some retailers or manufacturers also offer cash rebates when you buy a new fridge. Enter your zip code, select the refrigerator/freezer box, and click the "locate special offers/rebates" button to locate offers from retailers and manufacturers.
Best Buy offers free recycling of your old unit on a 1-to-1 basis when you buy a new refrigerator and receive basic delivery. Additional units may be recycled for a fee. Your favorite retailer may offer a similar program.
2. Check with Your State Energy Office or Local Electric Utility.
Some states are requiring recycling of used appliances as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009-funded, State Energy Efficiency Appliance Rebate Program (SEEARP). Some may also offer higher rebates for recycling. In addition, local utilities and energy-efficiency organizations support a growing number of refrigerator and freezer recycling programs. Some programs offer cash to recycle your old fridge; others offer utility bill credits. Check out the same "special offers/rebates" button to locate offers from States and utilities.
3. Ask about Municipal Pick-Up of Appliances.
Your local waste management division may offer heavy trash pick-up and recycling programs for appliances. Contact them directly for information.
4. Talk to Your Local Scrap Metal Recycler.
Thousands of local scrap metal recyclers can recycle old fridges and freezers. Ask your scrap metal recycler for assurance that your old unit will be properly recycled. View the Steel Recycling Institute's recycler locator.
The average refrigerator aged 10 years or older contains more than 120 pounds of recyclable steel! The energy saved by recycling one such refrigerator is equivalent to almost 290 kilowatt hours. That’s enough energy to run a new ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator for 8 months.