Manual fridge recycling is less environmentally friendly

Recent research, performed by Öko-Institut shows that manual stripping of fridges releases up to 100 times more emissions than when encapsulated shredders are used. The key element here is the treatment of the insulation foam containing residual CFC-expanding agents: a previous Öko study conducted in 2007 found that state-of-the-art processing resulted in CFC emissions of about 0.45 g per appliance. assessed the average emissions involved in manual dismantling of 20 refrigeration units of variable sizes, by weighing foam fractions at several stages after the operation: immediately after, 24 hours and two weeks later, in order to determine when and how much CFC was lost.
The latest study, in which similar measurements were carried out on 6 similar small-sized appliances, found an average 55 g of CFC per appliance, about 100 times greater than if the appliances had been treated in a state-of-the-art recycling plant. ODS losses associated with manual stripping averaged up to 1.1 tonnes of equivalent CO2 per fridge, which led the study to conclude that there was no alternative to the use of encapsulated shredders. Despite their cost, only such systems would guarantee the safe recycling of used fridges and should be used in developed and developing countries alike.