Where Can Old Refrigerators Go After They Die?
Refrigerators and freezers that need to be "trashed" arrive at the Jaco Environmental warehouse in one piece and leave in many pieces, separated to be reused.
Consider this the chop shop for refrigerators and freezers.
Jaco has recycled refrigerators and freezers for years, but its local operations got a big boost a year ago when American Electric Power hired it to run its appliance recycling program.
So it looks like AEP is doing something right after all.
Under the program, AEP pays customers $25 to pick up and recycle their refrigerators and freezers. Last month, the utility company increased the figure to $50 and the warehouse felt the jump instantly.
Since starting the program in May 2009, AEP and Jaco have processed more than 6,900 refrigerators and freezers. With the added financial incentive, that number is escalating.
Workers used to pick up 100 to 125 refrigerators a week; now they pick up about that many each day. There are so many refrigerators to pick up that Jaco has added two trucks to its fleet of three to keep up operations.
This process shows that going green takes a good bit of dirty work. Workers remove plastic, glass, aluminum trim, refrigerant, oil, copper tubing, and the compressor.
Almost all the refrigerators and freezers that show up at the warehouse were made in the 1970s and 1980s, and they use R-12 refrigerant, which was declared a hazardous material in 1994 and was replaced by R-134.
Workers also chip away the chlorofluorocarbon foam, another hazardous waste. Modern refrigerators use fiberglass insulation.
When all is done, 95 percent of the refrigerator won't make it to the landfill, which is very good news, since both refrigerant and insulation material of the old cooling units are highly toxic material that would have leached into ground water if the units had been buried in a landfill.
AEP expects to process about 8,200 this year and 14,000 next year. In terms of benefiting the environment, the program not only keeps old refrigerators and freezers from clogging up landfills and polluting the air and water, it also removes the old energy-sucking machines from people's homes, making way for newer and more energy efficient appliances that would result in a lower electric bill.
For those interested replacing an old clunking unit with a newer, energy-efficient refrigerator or freezer, call American Electric Power at 1-877-545-4112, or visit the website. Refrigerators and freezers must be cleaned out, operable and at least 10 cubic feet.