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.
The average refrigerator aged 10 years or older contains more than 120 pounds of recyclable steel!
Four ways to recycle
- Recycle Your Old Fridge or Freezer When You Buy a New ENERGY STAR Model.
Look for retailers that partner with EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) Program. RAD is a voluntary partnership program to help protect the ozone layer and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by recovering ozone-depleting chemicals from old refrigerators, freezers, window air conditioners, and dehumidifiers. Using best practices, RAD partners ensure that: refrigerant is recovered and reclaimed or destroyed; foam is recovered and destroyed, or the blowing agent is recovered and reclaimed; metals, plastic, and glass are recycled; and PCBs, mercury, and used oil are recovered and properly disposed.
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.
- Check with Your State Energy Office or Local Electric Utility.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Learn more about refrigerator foam recovery.