Large Appliances

Fridge, stove, washer and dryer, freezer

What are they?

Large appliances, also called white goods, include large household appliances like stoves, fridges, freezers, washers and dryers. They are generally durable and can last for many years but will eventually break down and not be able to be repaired any further.

What is the issue?

Large appliances are too bulky and heavy to be collected by curbside recycling programs. They must be hauled away separately.

Appliances that use refrigerants, including refrigerators, freezers, air conditioning units, water coolers, dehumidifiers, and portable ice makers, need to be handled with care. Some refrigerants are in the form of halocarbons, typically hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs); common brand name - Freon. These halocarbon chemical compounds contribute to ozone depletion and are known greenhouse gases [1]. Also, human health may be at risk from refrigerant poisoning if these chemicals are not handled correctly [2]. Canada has agreed to follow the Montreal Protocol and reduce its HCFC consumption to zero by 2030 [3].

Over-the-range or built-in microwaves also pose a concern. They contain a capacitor which is known to store energy even after being disconnected from an outlet. This can pose a health risk as an electrical shock can be discharged when trying to remove this component. [4]

Where can they go?

Large appliances are mostly made up of metal so they can be taken directly to a scrap metal dealer. Also, landfills and waste transfer stations generally have a designated area for scrap metal which would include large appliances. However, there may be a segregation of these white goods into ones that contain refrigerant and ones that do not.

Items with refrigerants need to be serviced by a certified Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) technician. To cover the cost of hiring a technician, there may be a higher disposal fee for the appliance. If your landfill or waste transfer station requires that you have the refrigerant removed before drop off, then you will have to cover the cost of a HVAC technician. Removing and disposing of these chemicals yourself is absolutely not advised and can result in fines [5].

What happens after?

Scrap metal dealers will ship out metals, by type, to smelters that heat and melt them in order to reform them into new products. EVRAZ North America has a steel smelter in Regina that makes pipes from scrap metal. They are the main buyer of steel in the province. Another major product of recycled metal is rebar for the construction industry.

For refrigerants, certified technicians must ensure that any halocarbon that would be released during removal procedures be recovered into a container designed to be refilled and to contain that specific type of halocarbon [5]. Once removed, the technician is obligated to ensure the contained refrigerant is reused, recycled, reclaimed, or disposed of [1]. The Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) facilitates the Canadian industry voluntary stewardship program for refrigerant waste disposal called the Refrigerant Management Canada (RMC). According to their website, any material that they authorize into their program is destroyed at disposal facilities [6].

How can I reduce?

•    When your old appliance stops working look into repairing it FIRST. Search your local business directories to find an appliance repair technician near you.
•    If repair is not possible, then look into a refurbished or second hand model. If you decide to buy new, ensure you are getting the most energy efficient one that is on the market.
•    For appliances containing a refrigerant, do your research and ask questions about what chemical is being used. All refrigerants have an Ozone Depleting Potential (ODP) and Global Warming Potential (GWP) number [7]. Look for refrigerants that are score the lowest on both scales.


References:
[1] chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ec.gc.ca%2Flcpe-cepa%2FD918C063-1AB3-442E-A62A-59001B7B70F1%2FRefrigerant_eng.pdf&clen=806558&chunk=true - accessed September 29, 2021
[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/refrigerant-poisoning - accessed September 28, 2021
[3] https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/canadian-environmental-protection-act-registry/publications/proposed-revisions-ozone-substances-regulations/chapter-3.html
[4] https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/safely-take-apart-microwave/ - accessed September 30, 2021
[5] https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/air-pollution/issues/ozone-layer/measures-protect/federal-halocarbon-regulations-information/fact-sheet-refrigeration-air-conditioning-contractors.html - accessed September 29, 2021
[6] https://www.hrai.ca/rmc-refrigerant-disposal - accessed September 30, 2021
[7] chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.hrai.ca%2Fuploads%2Fuserfiles%2Ffiles%2Frefrigerant_table_June2019.pdf&clen=333413&chunk=true - accessed September 29, 2021