Everything you need to know about recycling a refrigerator

By azjunk | Appliance Removal

Apr 04


Refrigerators Should Be Recycled Instead Of Thrown Out.


New energy efficient refrigerators are coming on the market daily, making our old refrigerators lame and feeble. They are outdated and inefficient. If you haven’t replaced your 1990’s fridge yet, get a move on. You’re wasting precious money on electricity bills for a refrigerator that does half the job of a new energy efficient model. Get with the times.

Once we've replaced them with the newest state of the art Energy Star model, our old junkers sit in our garages or on our back porch wasting away. There’s always the thought in the back of our head that one day we will turn it into a beer fridge. Yet every time we start down that road we remember we’re not in college anymore and having a beer fridge, when you're over thirty, makes you a loser … who am I kidding I still want one. Maybe we’ll just put a couple sodas in there too and then we can call it a drink fridge. That’s much less lame.

But if it has been over a year and you still haven’t made good use of your old fridge, then it's time to get rid of it. There are not a lot of options when it comes to handling old appliances like this, but one route rises above the rest. Recycling. It's the right move for a lot of reasons.


Sadly, that means most of the old hunkers get thrown out. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that more than 9 million refrigerators get thrown out, in the U.S., every year. Because of the number of refrigerators being tossed out of their homes, it is important that these old beasts get recycled properly. Depending on how old the fridges are they will contain ozone depleting chemicals and other products that produce tons of greenhouse gasses.

The worst of which is Freon, a refrigerant that, if not disposed of properly, seeps into the air we breathe then rises up into the atmosphere causing irreparable damage to our ozone layer. Since none of us want to die a fiery death caused by the heat of a thousand suns or even just our own sun, we need to do everything we can to keep our ozone shield in place.

Making sure they are recycled properly means a reduction in emissions, the safe disposal of oil, mercury and other contaminants, and will free up landfill space. Can you imagine how much room our landfills will need to house 9 million old refrigerators? Not to mention the damage 9 million refrigerators full of mercy, oil and refrigerant will do to our atmosphere. And that is just this year alone, another 9 million will be thrown out next year too. To put this in preservative, every 1,000 refrigerators can cause as much environmental damage as 1,500 cars driving for a whole year. For 9 million fridges that's 13.5 million cars.

The point is, recycling refrigerators, instead of just hauling them to the landfill, is important now more than ever.


With all of the crap in refrigerators, of course, the government has made restrictions and regulations on how to properly get rid of one. Federal law requires all refrigerants and chemicals be removed and disposed of properly before the shell and metal can be disposed of or recycled.

az junk removal logo for postYou can do a little research to find the right option for you or you can go the easy route and call AZ Junk. Unlike some of the other programs, we will pick up and haul off the refrigerator ourselves, leaving you absolutely zero work to do. We do not take them to the dump, but instead, we see to it that every refrigerator is recycled according to state and federal law. You can rest assured we are doing our part for the environment.


Out of the hundreds of pounds of metal plastic and glass that make up a fridge over 95% of it can be recycled. On average an old fridge can be stripped down to about 150 pounds of metal, 75 pounds of plastic, over 10 pounds of glass and at least 1 pound of insulating foam, all which can be recycled and made into brand new products. Think about it, your fridge might one day be the right arm of Robocop, or maybe just a new tire rim. Either way, you can make something cool with your broken box, so don’t just toss it.

Luckily, recycling an old fridge is not the hassle it used to be. If you play your cards right, you might even be able to get rid of it for a profit.

Some companies will give you cash to recycle an old fridge. Check with your electric company, they usually have a program that offers cash or even a credit on your next bill, plus they will come haul it off, now that's easy money.


A lot of nonprofits have popped up to help out. They dismantle the fridge, accord to the law, and then recycle the pieces. In addition, some cities, including the City of Phoenix, will collect and recycle them.

These programs require a little bit more work from you, some even require you to drop them off at a recycling facility. Here's a review of some of the major recycling facilities in Phoenix.


Also don’t forget you can always try Craigslist, Facebook Yard Sales or similar sites to help you make a little bit of money by selling your unwanted fridge.


Now if you’re a fan of Tim the Toolman Taylor you might be inclined to dismantle the fridge yourself and recycle the parts. Just make sure you know what you're doing before you jump into dismantling the refrigerator yourself.

It's more than just unplugging it and taking a jackhammer to it. Most importantly you have to remove the Freon before you can begin demolition.

Removing the Freon

Removing the Freon on your own is an arduous task. It's complicated, specific and it sucks. But if you’re determined then go for it. But remember since Freon causes such damage to the atmosphere you risk severe penalties if you mess it up and let it seep into the air. So here is a brief how-to, but make sure you have a thorough understanding of what you are doing before you go down this route. Honestly, it's worth every penny to pay someone to just do it for you, but if you still want to go it alone….

 Step 1: Set up a Recovery System

Following a diagram of the refrigerator, connect the red line to the sight glass via a yellow tube and the blue line to the recovery system. The yellow tube should be connected to the recovery cylinder and the recovery cylinder to the recovery system.

Step 2:

Screw this, hire someone else to do it. It's only like $30 bucks, stop being a tightwad.

Once you’ve removed the hazardous chemicals, use a steel blade on your jigsaw, or whatever power tools you want to play with and tear the thing apart. When you're done just sort the pieces and drop off the separated materials at any recycling center.

Remember they are making new energy efficient refrigerators for a reason because they are better for the environment and better for your wallet. Once you have a sparkling new fridge in your kitchen, send off your old one with a modern day Viking Funeral, where instead of being set on fire, it'll be torn apart and sold for scraps.

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