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20th June 2019

5 Key questions to consider when disposing of a fridge

Most of today’s refrigerators have a life span of approx. 20 years. However, sooner or later you will have to replace it with a new one. When that time comes, you may wonder how you can dispose of the old one responsibly.

The 5 most common questions people ask at this point can be seen below:

1. How do I dispose of an old fridge?

When you are looking to get rid to dispose of an old fridge, there are various ways you can do this, including:

  • Donate or Sell It
    If the fridge is still in good working order, you could donate it to charity, a friend or family member. Alternatively, you could look at selling the fridge either online, for example, Freecycle, Gumtree, eBay or Facebook market place. Other “offline” methods of selling your fridge could include placing an ad in your local paper or by placing an item for sale “postcard” in your local store.
  • Retailer Removal
    If you have purchased a new fridge, the retail company may offer to recycle your old fridge for an additional fee.
  • Local Tip or Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC)
    Some tips and HWRC centres do take fridges, however, please contact them beforehand to confirm that they will accept your fridge. Furthermore, please ensure that you have suitable transport and beware of any chemical spills.
  • Local Council
    Contact your local council (find your local council) to see if they offer a fridge removal service. Using this service may be cheaper than a registered waste carrier, however, you may have to move the item outside the property yourself and the price may only include a specific number of items. Therefore, this option can be the most cost-effective solution for homeowners but not necessarily for businesses.
  • Registered Waste Carrier
    Contact a registered waste carrier who will be able to provide you with a price and a waste consignment note. If you would like to know more about our fridge collection and disposal service, please click here.

2. Can I throw away an old fridge?

Due to the hazardous elements contained within a fridge, it must be disposed of responsibly. Therefore, you cannot leave it on the pavement, hoping for the scrap man to take away and you may also struggle taking it to your local tip as not all tips accept them.

According to Robert Sant, AO Recycling’s Managing Director, “Every year we throw away more than three million fridges in the UK…” (read the full article here). That results in a huge amount of harmful Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs ) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) being released into the atmosphere.

To check which type of refrigerants are used by your fridge, locate the plate on your fridge to identify the manufacturer, model, serial number and the types of refrigerants used. The codes related to the type of refrigerants used will be as follows:

  • R11 (pre-1994): CFCs that were contained in fridge insulation;
  • R12 (pre-1994): CFCs that were used as a refrigerant;
  • R22/R141b/R142b (post-1994): HCFCs that were contained in fridge insulation;
  • R134a (post-1994): HCFCs that were used as a refrigerant.

3. Can fridges be recycled?

Surprisingly, around 95% of a fridge can be recycled, regardless of whether it contains Ozone Depleting Substances or not!

Once the harmful substances have been removed, the oil, metal, plastic and foam (once it has been heated to release blowing agent gases) can be reused. The full process involved in recycling a fridge can be seen below:

  1. The compressor unit is detached and all oils and gases are then removed under vacuum.
  2. CFCs are separated from the oil with ultrasonic equipment.
  3. The fridge is shredded in a special environment, releasing the CFC gases within.
  4. The gases are filtered out and the shredded contents are dried up.
  5. The now powdery fridge insulation is sieved and collected for disposal.
  6. Non-ferrous (iron-free) metals are separated from plastics for recycling.
  7. The harmful CFC gases are cooled to -160 Celsius. This turns them into a liquid that can be safely evaporated at high temperatures inside a special incinerator unit.

4. How much does it cost to throw away an old fridge?

The price for fridge disposal starts at £30 for a domestic fridge and £90 for a commercial fridge and will depend on the location, type and the number of fridges you wish to recycle. If you would like to get a price for having your fridge removed, please complete our Request A Quote form.

5. Can the scrap man take fridges?

Due to the hazardous nature of a fridge and the legal legislation, the scrap man cannot take a fridge.

When you are looking to have a fridge removed, you are legally bound by the Waste Duty Of Care Regulations 2005 which state that you can either hand over the waste to a licensed waste facility (HWRC) or by using a professional company that has been officially approved by the Environment Agency and will provide you with suitable waste transfer notes.