Mini refrigerators contain substances that affect the environment, especially old mini refrigerators. Many people wonder how to properly dispose of the mini fridge without harming the environment and whether the mini fridge can be recycled. This article will answer.
Mini fridge disposal
Mini refrigerators are necessary for rental apartments, small rooms and bedrooms. However, if you intend to move to a more spacious place and feel that the old mini fridge is no longer suitable, or your mini refrigerator has been damaged, you can throw it away. However, you should dispose it correctly because discarded mini refrigerators can cause adverse effects on the environment.
You should not throw your old mini fridge on the dumpsites like other regular garbage because the refrigerant or the accessories inside the mini fridge, if leaked out, will adversely affect the air and water.
The best way is to recycle it or take steps to dispose correctly to avoid unwanted consequences.
Further reading: How Long Do Mini Fridges Last?
If you persist in using a damaged mini fridge, it will increase your electricity bills and waste electricity without meeting your usage needs.
What to do when disposing of a mini fridge
Signs you need to dispose of your fridge
To know if your refrigerator is ready to be thrown away, you should check the condition of your old refrigerator for signs of irretrievable.
First, if your mini fridge is still working and not severely damaged, but you want to replace it, you should consider giving it to a friend or selling it.
If it is no longer active or damaged, you should dispose of it properly to not cause any damage to the environment.
What to check before disposing of a mini fridge
To check the refrigerator, you need to pay attention to two core things:
A toxic chemical contained in the compressor lines. It affects the environment, especially the ozone layer. All components containing refrigerants must be properly recovered and disposed of by a professional.
A material responsible for keeping the heat inside and not allowing the outside temperature to enter the refrigerator. Old models of insulation is very harmful to the environment.
Many refrigerators manufactured before 2005 have foam insulation made with ozone-depleting substances. These devices should also be dismantled and reclaimed professionally.
You can check your mini fridge by following three steps:
- Check refrigerant piping for leaks or damage.
- See if the compressor has abnormal sound or excessive heat loss.
- Contact a professional to see if you can repair or transfer your mini fridge to someone else.
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What do you know about “fly-tipping”?
Fly-tipping is the disposal hazardous waste onto land without a valid permit. It is also known as illegal dumping. This is when you dump heavy furniture or waste (such as electronic devices, furniture, tires, mattresses or construction debris) next to the road, in the field, in the river, etc.
While littering is one of the minor offenses, the illegal dumping of hazardous waste can lead to hefty fines, or even worse, possible jail time.
There are also the rules regarding homeowners disposing of old refrigerators or other appliances.
- Duty of Care-Regulations 2005: To homeowners when it comes to trash disposal (not just old refrigerators) must take the responsibility of properly disposing of the trash. It means that you must take your waste to a licensed waste recycling facility. Violating of this obligation is a crime and can also result in civil liability if the waste is not disposed of properly.
- ODS – EC Regulation 2037/2000: All refrigeration units that contain ozone-depleting substances such as CFCs and HCFCs, … must be removed in a controlled way. Violations of these regulations you may face a penalty.
- Recycling and Recovery: These are the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment regulations (WEEE Regulations). It places an obligation on manufacturers and distributors, local authorities, waste management companies, importers and exporters. These stakeholders are responsible for recycling, recovering, and reusing any unused old refrigerators whenever possible.
How to dispose of a mini fridge
Following are some possible ways.
1. Send it to local charities
If your mini fridge is still in good working order, you can think of donation. These charities will collect and deliver the mini fridge to places needed, such as thrift stores, children’s shelters, or disabled homes for use. Many organizations will contact you directly and come to your home to have the mini fridge shipped.
However, there are a few things you should know before donating:
- If the mini fridge has not been used for a while, test it before giving. The refrigerator may not work as well as it did when you last used it. This simple step will save the charity the hassle of recycling a broken fridge.
- Depending on the law or regulation where you live, you may be eligible to receive a tax receipt for your contribution. If you’re not sure, don’t hesitate to ask.
- The older refrigerators are less efficient than newer models. While giving away a refrigerator for charity is generous. However, it can also increase energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Consider the benefits of recycling and donating before making the right decision.
2. Find people who need it
As long as your mini fridge is in good working condition, you can post it on social media to sell it to someone in need. Use Facebook or Craigslist to see if anyone is interested in purchasing it.
First, you need to take some clear pictures of the machine and post as much information about the refrigerator as possible, including size and brand, and how long it has been used…. You should give a price similar to other refrigerators on the site. When buyers are interested, they may negotiate before buying. In this case, you may need to deliver the mini fridge to the recipient. Or the two parties can agree on the transportation. Make sure you clean the fridge completely before taking pictures or selling it.
3. Contact the appliance stores
You can ask the mini refrigerator stores if they recycle fully certified old appliances. If so, you can exchange your old mini fridge for a discount on a new fridge.
Many appliance stores agree to take your old fridge when you buy a new one at their store. If you are considering buying a new fridge, ask the store about their policy on old mini fridge. For the perfect deal, when the store delivers and installs your new fridge, they may take the old one away.
4. Send it to a metal recycling workshop
Old equipment will be recycled and used in construction by these workshops. If your local metal recycling plant accepts mini fridge recycling, you can send it to them.
5. Wait for a bulk trash pickup day
In some areas, there are scheduled days where they collect large appliances. Contact your waste collection service or visit your city’s website to see when the days are. Normally, they offer monthly or yearly collection.
If the service is available in your area, move your refrigerator out 1 or 2 days in advanced. On the scheduled date, the waste collection department will take your refrigerator and they will safely dispose of it later.
6. Contact the city garbage collection office
If your city does not have a mass collection date, you can still ask for a schedule to pick it up. If not, find a suitable recycling method.
7. Recycling program for special refrigerators
Many localities will launch these programs to recycle harmful devices from the environment. This is a meaningful program. You can donate your mini fridge to the program or sell it for cheap.
How to recycle a mini fridge
You can recycle parts or recycle the whole mini fridge into other things. The mini fridge glass, plastic, and metal can be easily recycled. However, you should not recycle some parts that are harmful to the environment. Instead, they should be recovered and disposed of properly.
What cannot be recycled
- Refrigerant: The compressor and the evaporator coil are where the refrigerant is. Chlorofluorocarbons in refrigerants damage the ozone layer and contain greenhouse gases.
- Insulation: Foam insulation manufactured in 2005 or earlier is harmful to the atmosphere.
In addition, other parts of the mini fridge can be recycled regularly, and it is up to you to be creative. Many excellent and exciting works are recycled from old mini fridges.
Components that can be recycled
Specifically, you can recycle the following parts from a mini fridge:
- The compressor: The professionals will disassemble it and reuse it in other equipment.
- Plastics and metals: They are completely removed and fully recycled, where applicable.
- Glass shelves: They should be crushed and sent to glass recycling plants.
- The oil: It is distilled and reused in other equipment. Refrigerant-contaminated compressor oil is removed and disposed of properly.
- Switches or thermostats: These devices often contain mercury. After removing, distribute them to certified handlers for salvaging.
Recycling mini refrigerators is an environmentally friendly action, helping reduce waste and prevent harmful substances into the air and land.
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1. Should I dispose or recycle a mini fridge myself?
It is never safe to do it yourself. It’s not everyone that can manually remove the compressor, refrigerant, or insulation from the refrigerator.
Do not attempt to remove the refrigerant or the compressor yourself as the improperly handled refrigerant can be harmful to your body. Only persons with appropriate training should do this.
Leaving the mini fridge on the roadside or somewhere is also not a good idea, because you violate the rules.
The safest and most responsible way is to recycle or dispose of your mini refrigerator properly with professional help. Many organizations will help you dispose of your refrigerator properly for free; Others will even refund you.
Besides, mini fridges can be disposed of at your local appliance collection program or waste facility.
2. Is it the best way to recycle the old mini fridge?
A mini fridge can last from 6 to 14 years. So, when it’s time for you to dispose of it and if you care about our environment, recycling your mini fridge is one of the possible ways you can do.
Some people may think of dumping the refrigerator in landfills and dumpsites, you can recycle it because there are still parts you can use for different purposes.
According to procedures of EPA (Environmental Protection Agency – USA), you can use the refrigerant, oil, and mercury from the old fridges for other appliances. Besides, you can also recycle parts of fridges in recycling programs, including copper, aluminum, and steel, as well as glass and plastic.
3. Are old fridges dangerous?
Yes, they are. Today, most modern fridges have metal covers like stainless steel, but older models and a few newer models still use plastic backing. As you may know, plastic is very flammable and can catch fire quickly and release toxic gases. Therefore, using an old refrigerator will not be safe, in some cases.
In addition, using an old fridge may affect your health. In the old fridge, there are things you don’t see, but it can really stain your food and make you sick. A dirty or old refrigerator can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria like salmonella, listeria, and E.
If your mini fridge is about 10 years old or more, consider the replacement.
4. How to encourage more responsible appliance recycling or disposal in the United States
The EPA’s RAD Program encourages equipment recycling and proper disposal of hazardous components. RAD Partners ensure the proper handling of refrigerants and other hazardous components as required by federal laws.
5. How much does it cost to dispose of my old mini fridge?
Just like other old appliances, disposal of your old fridge may require fee. The cost of collecting and disposing of appliances varies or it depends on the type of equipment. It depends on where you are living, you may have a free service, or you may pay fee for it.
Some retailers offer a device pick-up and drop-off service with the purchase and delivery of a new model. The fee can be about $10 to $50 for this service, depending on the retailer.
Further reading: Best Mini Fridge Under $200
To properly dispose of an old mini fridge, there are some possible ways. You can get help from a waste disposal facility, recycle, donate or some other ways mentioned above.
Hopefully, these options will definitely solve your problem with the old mini fridge.
Frequently Asked Questions about Safe Disposal of Refrigerated Household Appliances, epa.gov, Retrieved on Apr. 16, 2022