EPA and Sears Track Refrigerant Issues

Over on the domestic refrigeration side, there has been much ado about old refrigerators.

For many years, the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society Auxiliary promoted a Take Off The Door (TOD) campaign, encouraging homeowners to contact contractors who would remove the door of a refrigerator being taken to the curbside for disposal. This was to prevent children playing in the area from climbing into the refrigerator and having the door accidentally close and lock on them, the locking mechanism being common in older refrigerators.

In recent years, the issue has been safely removing refrigerants that may still be in an old unit. For more than 20 years, U.S. government regulations have required the recovery of CFCs, of which R-12 was the most common one in domestic refrigerators.

The recovery issue recently made headlines in Europe where technicians over there were not only dealing with CFCs but flammable hydrocarbons (HCs.)

One of the most recent developments in the United States is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) voluntary Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) Program, designed to promote environmentally responsible disposal of household appliances in order to reduce emissions of ozone depleting substances and greenhouse gases. Among those getting onboard with the program is retail giant Sears.

“Retailers play a vital role in environmental progress as well as economic progress,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “When consumers buy new fridges and freezers from Sears, they can rest assured that the ozone-depleting chemicals in their old appliances will be disposed of properly.”

“Sears Home Services is excited about being the first retailer to partner with the EPA in its Responsible Appliance Disposal Program,” said Mark Good, executive vice president/general manager, Sears Home Services.

“Sears has been a leader for years in the development of energy-efficient appliances and this is a natural extension of that. Our customers have come to know Sears as the place to go for information, services, and products related to green living.”

According to a statement from the EPA, each year Americans dispose of roughly 10 million refrigerators and freezers that contain CFCs or HFCs. The new partnership between the EPA and Sears will result in the proper disposal of more than 1 million of those refrigerators and freezers per year, reports said.

Through the program, the refrigerants and appliance insulating foam that contain CFCs and HFCs are captured and destroyed or recycled. The program also includes the recovery and proper disposal of other appliance waste streams, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury switches, and used oil.

In addition to appliance retailers, the EPA said it is working with a variety of industry sectors to quantify and reduce emissions and promote efficient technologies that are safer for the ozone layer and Earth’s climate.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov.

Publication date: 12/03/2007

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