In the U.S. alone, around 9 million fridges are tossed out or end up in landfills each year. And they, along with the hazardous chemicals then contain and the greenhouse gasses they emit, definitely aren’t biodegradable. But a partnership between General Electric the EPA, the Home Depot and the Appliance Recycling Centers of America (ARCA), now provides a green solution – shredding old fridges.
Over the past year, ARCA has recycled more than 100,000 refrigerators and freezers, using a massive 40 foot fridge shredding machine. Consumers can bring their fridges to the Home Depot, which then sends them to ARCA’s facility for recycling. Able to shred 600 fridges a day – that’s around 150,00 a year – the shredder recovers approximately 95% of the insulating foam and harmful gases from the large appliances. The remaining materials are shredded into streams of uniformly-sized granules and sorted for recycling. The foam is degassed -greenhouse gasses are captured in a closed system -and compressed into pellets that can be used as fuel for other processes.
In one year, this amazing machine diverted 5.5 million pounds of foam and plastics from landfills for reuse. The process of cutting up the fridge then removing and separating the foam, metals and harmful chemicals almost reads like science fiction explained. But the real beauty of this machine is that it makes a huge difference for the environment. Now if we could just get more of these machines in more cities!