Big Goals for Philadelphia Refrigerator Recycling Project

GE and ARCA Inc. announced Sept. 9 that the UNTHA Recycling Technology system was ready to crunch its first refrigerator. It will recover about 95 percent of the insulating foam, plus high-quality plastics, aluminum, copper and steel.

The new UNTHA Recycling Technology (URT) system at the Appliance Recycling Centers of America (ARCA)’s facility in Philadelphia is ready to begin recycling as many as 150,000 refrigerators annually, GE and ARCA announced Sept. 9. ARCA hired 50 new employees as part of its $10 million investment in URT and other new capital equipment. Since February, the two companies said, they have doubled the number of states served, feeding 100,000 additional appliance units to the Pennsylvania facility from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Delaware, Rhode Island and Vermont. Consumers bring their used refrigerators to participating retailers, who then send them to ARCA as part of GE’s participation in the EPA Responsible Appliance Disposal program.

The URT will recover about 95 percent of the insulating foam in refrigerators, in addition to high-quality plastics, aluminum, copper and steel, URT reduces the typical landfall waste of a refrigerator by 85 percent. It also lowers the greenhouse gas and ozone-depleting substance emissions recovered from insulating foam.

In April, GE became the first full-line appliance manufacturer in the United States to adopt an emissions-reducing foaming agent to make its top-freezer refrigerators at its plant in Decatur, Ala. From there and everywhere else GE appliances are manufactured, they live energy-efficient lives, recognized with GE’s winning of a sixth straight Energy Star “Sustained Excellence” award. Now, with URT operational, GE refrigerators will be reborn as completely new products. For example, steel recovered by URT will be sold to a supplier for processing and then repurchased as steel deck plate by GE Transportation for use in building locomotives.