June 26, 2009

Major Appliances: Recycled and Reused

Recycling is something most of us do every day when we separate our consumables at home. Recently, San Francisco has taken recycling to a new level by requiring that county residents separate compost from trash!

We most commonly think of recyclables as bottles, cans and glass.   What is the most recyclable material?  Is it plastic bottles, newspapers, glass jars, metal cans, cardboard boxes, or refrigerators?  Well, the answer may surprise you.  Of the ones listed, it is refrigerators and other major appliances that have a combined recycling rate of well over 90%!

What happens to these appliances?  Whether you have them picked up when the new one is delivered, or whether you place it at the street for city pickup, these appliances make their way back to metal processing industries located across the U.S. (or, insert whichever country you live.)  They can be bundled, crushed, cubed, or shredded but the metals will be separated and used over and over again.  Steel is a remarkable material that forms not only the backbone of appliances, but the backbone of our country as well.  Recycled steel becomes the structural steel used in buildings, bridges, and roads.  And, the recycled plastics and insulation can provide energy or day-cover at landfills.

Do you have an old appliance that could be recycled?  1. Inquire if your retailer has a program to recycle appliances that they pick up.  2. Ask if your town or county has an appliance recycling program. (Or, ask: Why not?)  For more on appliance recycling visit: AHAM’s web site or www.recycle-steel.org.  You may also call 1-800-YES-1-CAN.