EPA, Utilities Launch Program To Promote Proper Disposal Of Refrigerators And Freezers

Each year Americans dispose of roughly 13 million refrigerators and freezers, and many of those contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that deplete the ozone layer and contribute to climate change. Additionally, about 23 million U.S. households have secondary units in their basements or garages, which are often older, less efficient models that may consume three to four times more energy than newer units.

On Oct. 27, EPA announced it launched a new, voluntary Responsible Appliance Disposal program to promote environmentally responsible disposal of these household appliances, a move that could significantly reduce emissions and save consumers money.

"Promoting the responsible use of products that emit ozone depleting and greenhouse gases makes business sense and protects the environment," said Bill Wehrum, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "We have the ability to make a difference by properly disposing of everyday household appliances."

The new partnership will help utility companies encourage the retirement and proper disposal of these older units while ensuring that CFCs, both in the insulation foam and in the refrigerant, are captured and destroyed or recycled. The program also will promote the recovery and proper disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, and used oil contained in the appliances.

The new partners include Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric, PacifiCorp, Nevada Power/Sierra Pacific Power, the Snohomish Public Utility District, Fort Collins Utilities, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Austin Energy, and San Diego Gas and Electric. Program partners will provide EPA with data on the quantity of CFCs recovered and destroyed or recycled along with other environmental information. EPA is working with the partners and many key sectors to quantify and reduce emissions and promote efficient technologies that are safer for the ozone layer and Earth's climate.

This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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