It's bad enough to fill up landfills with recyclable food packaging, but it's even worse when people start piling on the remains of hulking appliances. That's why GE partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency this week to work on refrigeration appliance recycling best practices. It doesn't sound sexy, but GE estimates that its new recycling technology could cut refrigerator landfill waste by 85%. Note: Nine million refrigerators are disposed of in the U.S. each year.
As it stands, 90% of used refrigerators in the U.S. are shredded for metal, with the remaining 10% of foam and other materials going to the landfill. But GE is working with the Appliance Recycling Centers of America (ARCA) to recover 95% of insulating foam found in refrigerators. The company is the first in the U.S. to use ARCA's process, which automatically captures toxins and greenhouse gases (chlorofluorocarbons, hydro chlorofluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, and cyclopentane) from insulating foam that would otherwise leak into the atmosphere.
As part of the partnership, GE will offer up used appliances from six surrounding states to ARCA Advanced Processing's regional recycling center in Pennsylvania. "The potential of this technology is tremendous," said Brian Conners, President and COO of ARCA Advanced Processing, in a statement. "If the foam from the 9 million refrigerators disposed of annually in the U.S. were processed through this recycling technology, the greenhouse gas emissions avoided would be equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of more than 2.4 million cars on U.S. roads."