GE boasts 100,000 recycled refrigerators, and counting

GE boasts 100,000 recycled refrigerators, and counting

Summary: General Electric's facility for taking apart discarded refrigerators and freezers has helped divert about 5.5 million pounds of material from North American landfills.

TOPICS: Emerging Tech

I've written plenty about the disposal hazards related to getting rid of old desktops, storage devices and other information technology -- a topic that gets filed under the heading of electronic waste (aka e-waste).

While refrigerators and freezers live much longer in our homes, they likewise present a serious disposal and recycling challenge when homeowners set them out curbside as part of municipal waste streams. Plus, while not every home necessarily has a computer, refrigerators are one of the most common appliances in U.S. households.

About a year ago, GE announced a partnership with Appliance Recycling Centers of America to address that issue and it has already managed to process more than 100,000 refrigerators or freezers with its UNTHA Recycling Technology (pictured below).


The system (which stands 40 feet high) can recover up to 95 percent of the insulating foam from these old appliances.

So far, about 89 percent of the material collected from the first 100,000 refrigerators and freezers processed with the system has been used for new products; another 11 percent is going toward applications in cement manufacturing, according to GE.

There's a long way to go: an estimated 9 million refrigerators are disposed of annually, and very few of them are recycled for their insulating foam. (Close to 90 percent of them DO have the metal extracted for other uses.) Some more statistics can be found in the infographic below.


Topic: Emerging Tech

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  • Gotta love environmentalists...

    Recycle refrigerators to make homes cheaper so you can tear up the forests faster to make new suburbs than if you just buried the old foam.
    Tony Burzio
    • You lost me -|- disconnect

      How does recycling refrigerators lead to tearing up the forests faster? It's one thing to lament environmental despoilment and depletion, and seemingly unchecked urban expansion, but how does appliance recycling encourage or fuel any of this?
  • I wonder about this.

    "11 percent is going toward applications in cement manufacturing." Organic compounds and cement manufacturing in the same sentence usually means the organic is being burned in the kiln.