Although your fridge is an essential appliance in the home and looks harmless, it contains some harmful substances. Deconstructing a fridge without experience or professional help may release harmful substances into the environment, negatively affecting the ecosystem and ozone layer.
Global warming is becoming more alarming, and it is important to opt for eco-friendly alternatives to dispose of your appliances. When repairing a fridge freezer isn’t an option, and you aren’t familiar with the installation process, you can contact a reputable removal company.
The guide below provides vital information on how to dispose of your fridge freezer.
Harmful substances contained in your fridge
A recent study reported that households in the UK dispose of about three million fridges yearly. Most fridges exceed their 11-year lifespan, some remain functional for 20 years or more, and only a small portion undergoes safe recycling.
This means that a large amount of hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) get released into the atmosphere yearly.
HCFCs, CFCs and the environment
In the 20th century, HCFCs and CFCs were considered safe to include in refrigerators (serving as refrigerant or insulating foam), aerosol sprays and other products. While these man-made compounds are non-flammable and do not contain toxins, recent discoveries show that CFC molecules get broken down from exposure to UV radiation.
The breakdown from UV radiation release a chlorine atom that depletes the ozone layer, meaning prolonged exposure to sunlight can trigger the release of the ozone layer-depleting chlorine atom.
An international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol was passed, permanently banning the manufacturing of HCFC and CFC substances.
How to check for a CFC-containing fridge
If your fridge was manufactured in the 90s or before, it likely contains ozone-depleting substances (ODS) like CFCs and HCFCs. Check the fridge’s plate for its serial number, model and manufacturer. The plate should also have information on the type of refrigerant contained in the refrigerator.
HCFCs and CFCs contain elements like fluorine, chlorine, hydrogen or carbon. These substances are classified in different codes, depending on the manufacturing time. The most common include:
- R11 (before 1994) – Fridges contained this CFC for insulation
- R12 (before 1994) – This CFC served as a refrigerant
- R22/ R41b/ R142b (after 1994) – They are HCFCs contained in fridge insulation
- R134a (after 1994) – This HCFC served as a refrigerant
Responsible ways to dispose of your fridge
- Donate or sell it
If the fridge still functions, you can give it to a friend or neighbour or decide to make extra cash by selling it to a local second-hand dealer.
Websites that collect and reuse working appliances are also available. You can also post your old fridge on online platforms such as eBay or gum tree for sale, but transporting the fridge to the buyer may be an issue.
- Visit the local household waste recycling centre
This may be an option if you have suitable means of transportation. Ensure you call the centre in advance to know if they accept fridges. If they do, prepare the old appliance for transportation to prevent spilling chemicals from the fridge.
- Hire an electrical retailer
If you got a new fridge, your retailer might offer to dispose of the old fridge after they deliver the new fridge. However, you may pay additional charges because it is an extra service.
- Inform your local council
Contacting your local council is a cheap disposal option, but it may take a long time before the council collects it because most councils have a low response time. You will likely wait about two weeks or longer for confirmation, and the waste collection team will not collect the fridge from your property. You have to find a means to move the fridge outside your property.
- Book a professional fridge service
You can rely on a waste removal company to collect your old fridge faster than your local council, but this will cost slightly higher. A waste disposal company will collect the fridge from your proper, saving you time and stress.
If you want to book a waste removal service, ensure they have a license from the Environment Agency and ask if they give a detailed notice after collecting appliances. If the company doesn’t give a detailed collection notice and their services are cheap, they may likely not dispose of your fridge safely.
What happened to your fridge at the recycling centre?
Recycling any item is a complicated process, but with refrigerator units, it is more complicated. Prioritising safe fridge recycling has given impressive results. More than 95% of refrigerators are fully recycled, whether or not they contain ozone-depleting substances.
At the recycling centre, your fridge will get disassembled in a sealed environment. A safe fridge recycling process involves the following.
- Detaching the compressor unit and removing all gases and oils under a vacuum
- Separating the CFCs from oil using ultrasonic equipment
- Filtering out the gases and drying the shredded content
- Sieving the powdery fridge insulation and collecting it for disposal
- Separating non-ferrous or iron-free metals from plastics for recycling
- Cooling the harmful CFC gases to -160 Celsius. Cooling turns the gases into a liquid that safely evaporates at high temperatures inside a special incinerator unit
Regulations for safe fridge disposal in the UK
The UK government has introduced three legislative pieces covering responsible fridge recycling. They include
- Duty of Care
The 2005 Waste Duty of Care regulation covers all household waste, including fridges in Wales and England. This legislation stipulates that homeowners have two choices for safe waste disposal.
a. You can hand the waste over to a licenced waste facility
b. You can contact a professional waste removal and disposal service, but the company must have approval from the Environmental Agency and give you the appropriate waste transfer notes
If you do not comply with this regulation, you will be committing a criminal offence and civil liability if your fridge or waste doesn’t get disposed of in an eco-friendly way.
ODS removal regulation
ODS removal 2037/2000 regulation introduced by the European Commission states that all fidges containing CFC or other harmful substances must be safely removed before recycling. The removal can only be done in a highly controlled environment, like a recycling facility.
Leaving your fridge near your local dumpster may incur a fee of about £2,500 or lead to prosecution.
Recycling and recovery regulation
This is the Waste Electrical, and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulation obligates anyone who sells, manufactures, disposes of and distributes electronic equipment to either include them in different reuse programs or send the appliance to recycling facilities.
If you want to get rid of your old fridge freezer and it still works, consider selling, donating or giving the appliance to a friend or neighbour. However, you can contact London Rubbish Removal via call on 020 37451018 or you can also whatsApp us on 07907603848 for your fridge freezer disposal.