Refrigerator Recycling – A Fact Sheet

Refrigerator Recycling – A Fact Sheet

SRI Series on Worst Practices No.2

Annually, about 173 millions of cooling appliances units or refrigerators are produced1. While the general public might expect domestic refrigerators to be dismantled and recycled responsibly and safely, in countries where international recommendations on extended producer practices2 are not enforced their recycling journey all too often leads to landfill sites and scrapyards. 

Discarded end-of-life refrigerators are often exported under the guise of “second-hand appliances” – whether they function or not which raises legal and as well as ethical questions. The manual dismantling of refrigerators for their steel, copper (Cu) and aluminium (Al) provides an important source of income for the urban poor working in the informal sector as well as for the formal recyclers. However, when dismantled incorrectly the refrigerant gases inside the cooling system released (deliberately or accidentally) to the atmosphere pose a significant environmental threat. Safe dismantling would allow for the recovery and reuse of these gases. 









Recycling Initiatives