How To Dispose of A Fridge
The invention of the domestic refrigerator has allowed us to keep food fresh at home for longer. Often combined with a freezer, it’s an ‘always on’ appliance that has become a necessity of modern living. Over 98% of homes in the UK have a fridge or fridge freezer, with around 4 million of the appliances sold every year.
Fridges and fridge freezers are large appliances that contain components and chemicals that need careful disposal. On average, households replace their fridge every 10 to 15 years, and will either dispose of a fridge or recycle a fridge when they are finished with it.
Options for disposing of a fridge
Large appliances are a luxury item, often costing significant amounts to replace. If your fridge or fridge freezer is still working when you decide to replace it, you might consider selling it to someone else who may not be able to afford a new appliance. You could advertise your fridge on local selling sites, social media, or via a noticeboard or newspaper. Make sure you specify if the item needs to be collected or if you are willing to deliver it.
Many charities accept donations of large appliances that are still in good working order. Check with local charities as they may also offer to collect the item from your home. Often the item will need to have original safety stickers, or be tested for safety before a charity can use or resell it.
Fridge freezer recycling is regulated under Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) guidelines. You can find out more about how to recycle or dispose of other electrical items in our guide to disposing of electronic devices and also our guide to white goods and old furniture disposal.
Harmful substances in fridges
When you recycle or dispose of a fridge, there are several potentially dangerous and harmful substances that must be removed and handled correctly. Fridges made before 2000 can contain Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) within the insulation or refrigerants. These are harmful to the environment, as when they are broken down by UV radiation they have been proven to destroy the ozone layer surrounding our planet.
Legislation and rules about recycling fridges
As well as WEEE regulations, there are a couple of rules that apply when recycling fridges, and recycling fridge freezers including: Duty of Care and Removal of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS). Any householder getting rid of waste has a duty of care to make sure it is disposed of correctly, meaning you must either take it to a licensed disposal facility, or ensure that any third party who removes waste on your behalf does so properly. ODS must be removed from fridges and fridge freezers before recycling, failure to do this can result in a fine and prosecution.
What happens to a fridge when it is recycled?
To prepare for fridge disposal, switch it off and empty the appliance of all contents. When you recycle a fridge, it must be broken down and disposed of correctly. Over 95% of an average fridge or fridge freezer is recyclable. The most convenient way to recycle a fridge is via a licensed waste carrier, who will take away the appliance and ensure it is recycled responsibly in accordance with legislation.
When recycled correctly, your fridge will be taken apart in a sealed environment and degassed, removing any harmful substances. The fridge is then crushed and shredded so that the materials can be separated. Metals, insulation and plastics are then recycled individually.
Fridge Freezer disposal
When you need to dispose of a fridge, you’ll need a licensed waste carrier that can make the process simple for you. These large appliances are difficult to transport yourself, so you’ll want someone to take the hassle out of the job and arrange for collection at a time to suit you.