Making a Difference
A little background
Chances are your older refrigerator was made using dangerous, ozone-depleting refrigerants. Depleting the ozone layer is bad, right? Well, turns out these refrigerants are also potent greenhouse gases that, when they get out, contribute to climate change. The same can be said for older window-unit air conditioners, humidifiers and other household appliances.
Getting rid of older appliances using these harmful refrigerants reduces overall energy demand, ozone depletion and global climate impacts.
What’s the big deal?
So, why is the proper removal and recycling of old appliances so important?
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports note that in the United States alone, there are around 200 million household refrigerators and freezers, 40 million window air conditioning units and 15 million dehumidifiers. Of the refrigerators and freezers alone, it is estimated that approximately 20 million are secondary units either used in garages or basements. More often than not, these sorts of secondary units are older, less energy-efficient models.
The EPA notes that around 9 million refrigerators / freezers, 6 million window air conditioning units and 1 million dehumidifiers are disposed of every year. It is critical that these appliances are properly removed and recycled in order to:
- prevent emissions of ozone-depleting substances and harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere;
- prevent the release of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury and used oil;
- save landfill space; and
- reduce overall energy consumption.
Because of the sheer volume of old appliances disposed of annually, the environmental impact can be huge.