Our Guide to Disposing of a Fridge Responsibly

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Money Savings Advice Our guide to disposing of a fridge responsibly

Ideally dispose of your fridge by sending the appliance for recycling. This may be through your local council or a private company. There are other ways to recycle electricals, too.

Fridges don’t last forever. Even with the best of maintenance and repairs when needed, eventually appliances reach the end of their life. One day the repairs will outweigh the value of your fridge. At that point, you’ll need to dispose of your fridge responsibly.

Containing electrical components, metals, refrigerants and several other different materials, a fridge should not just be left in a general waste landfill. Your fridge is treated as hazardous waste.

Read on to find out more about responsible ways to dispose of your old fridge.

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Donating Your Fridge

Though most people dispose of their old fridge when it’s past its usable lifespan, some get rid of an old fridge when it looks worn, or they want a newer model. Some old fridges could last a bit longer and might be perfect for someone else without the means to get a brand new appliance.

Most charity shops won’t accept white goods and electrical appliances, but you can always advertise on social networks or offer yours to friends and family.

That old, scratched and inefficient fridge could be someone else’s lifeline, so you won’t need to worry about sending your appliance to landfill. If you’re replacing a working, albeit beat up, fridge then you could help out someone in your community who can’t afford their own immediate replacement.

You could even sell it for a small amount of cash if you’d prefer. Look at Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and other similar selling networks for the fastest way to remove your appliance – you’ll likely receive a number of offers in quick succession as these services are very popular.

Fridge Recycling Services

There are many parts of a fridge that can be harvested and reused. Recycling reduces the amount of waste and gives components a chance to be used again in another way.

Your local council is likely to offer appliance and white goods recycling. There are also private companies that will take your fridge, as well as waste charities that offer this service for the lowest possible cost.

If you choose a responsible recycling service, you don’t need to worry any more. The fridge stops being your responsibility, so you can relax safe in the knowledge that you’ve done the right thing for the environment.

If you’re buying a new fridge, some sellers will take your old appliance away whilst they’re delivering your new one. This recycling service might be included free of charge, or might cost a little bit extra.

Finding a Responsible Recycling Service

Finding a responsible recycling service isn’t as easy as looking on Facebook. Don’t just trust any man and van service. Increasingly, people with the right vehicles are offering man and van services. You can pay someone to collect your old appliance and take it away from your property.

Sadly, unless you use a trusted company, you won’t know what happens next. Unscrupulous people will charge for waste disposal then abandon your fridge in the countryside. If you’re going to the effort of responsible disposal, it’s worth the extra to find the right people. You’re responsible for your fly-tipped waste, even if someone else abandoned it.

Ask to see your chosen provider’s Waste Carrier License. This is a legal requirement, protecting you and making sure that your fridge is responsibly disposed of. Make sure you get a document that you can use as evidence of proper disposal. If you aren’t offered this, then don’t take the risk, or you could face a heavy fine. The cost of using a professional company will never be much more.

Larger companies, in particular retailers, are starting to catch on and offer recycling services with new appliance orders. Some retailers will also let you just pay for their recycling service, even if you’ve bought your new fridge elsewhere. AO.com, for example, have opened their own recycling plant, and work with other companies to recycle their fridges responsibly too.

They recycle 20% of the fridges recycled in the UK every year, which is roughly 700,000 of the 3.5 million fridges we get rid of annually, all in their own central recycling plant.

Your Local Recycling Centre

If you have a large van, you can take your old fridge to your local household waste recycling centre. Usually, these have a clearly signposted area for disposal of hazardous white goods. Make sure you don’t simply tip your fridge into one of the standard waste or electrical skips!

Staff at the recycling centre will be able to help if you have questions about safe disposal, or if you need help finding the right place to leave your fridge. Just be careful if you are using a van, as you may require a paid permit to drive into your recycling centre. Check your local rules.

Making Appliances Easier to Move

However you’re disposing of your old fridge, you’ll want to make it easy to move. Always make sure that you’ve cleared out old food, and water if you have a dispenser. Defrost it in plenty of time before you remove it, as frosty build us can leak as the fridge is removed from your home.

Clean your fridge, then tape the door shut so it’s a little easier to move, otherwise it could open and flail around as you’re carrying the heavy appliance. If you’re recycling it, consider removing the shelves completely and carrying them separately to minimise the weight and difficulty of the fridge itself.

Why Is Responsible Fridge Disposal Important?

Disposing of your fridge responsibly is important for environmental reasons. Your fridge will likely contain HFCs, used in the insulation and refrigerant. The older fridge may even contain their predecessors, CFCs, which are even more damaging and add to the hazardous waste.

When CFCs and HFCs break down, they release damaging chemicals that can harm the ozone layer. These greenhouse gases are a side effect of using and disposing of fridges, though you can greatly reduce the damage by opting for fridge recycling. Responsible recycling ensures these gases are trapped and not released into the air.

What Happens to a Recycled Fridge?

If it can’t be used again, a recycled fridge is safely broken down. Oils and gases are removed from tubes and pipes; then the compressor might be used again. CFCs and HFCs can be removed and captured, then stored where they can’t harm the environment. They can be incinerated in a way that means that they’re never released.

Metals and plastics that make up your fridge can be separated, taken and recycled. You’d be surprised how many different parts of your fridge can be reused in other ways. They often go back into making new fridges, particularly now that fridges all require a metal back for extra fire safety, or the materials can be used for other white goods or products.

Costs of Fridge Disposal

Fridge disposal doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. A responsible recycling company will usually offer this service for £30 at most. In some areas, free fridge recycling services are offered. If you have your own van, you can do this on your own for only the cost of fuel, but be aware of any charges for using your van at your local recycling centre.

Find out more about prolonging the life of your household appliances, with our online guides to repairs and to white goods insurance and warranties.

Have You Considered Fridge Insurance Cover?

While every white goods item, such as a fridge, will have a natural life, you may be able to extend this by taking out fridge insurance cover. This is not only more cost-effective from your point of view, but it would also reduce the number of fridges disposed of each year in the UK.

How Often Would I Pay Fridge Insurance Premiums?

Insurance companies today are very flexible, and you can either make a one-off payment, monthly or even quarterly. Making a one-off payment for the full year can lead to a saving of around 30% when compared to monthly payments which do incur a degree of interest so if you can afford to make a one-off payment for your insurance premiums that would be the most cost-effective.

What Would I Be Covered For With Fridge Insurance?

Standard fridge insurance would cover you for mechanical and electrical breakdowns as well as accidental damage. This just about covers the range of issues which could stop your fridge from working. When you consider the cost of a new fridge and the responsibility for disposing of the old one, it makes sense to extend the life of your current fridge as much as safely possible.

How Many Claims Would I Be Able to Make Each Year?

Many insurance companies will allow you to make unlimited claims against fridge insurance while others may have an upper limit. Therefore, it is very important to look at the specifics of each fridge insurance policy as these will impact the premiums. If the premiums look “too low” then you may have a limited cover.

Would I Incur Any Costs With Fridge Repairs?

Traditional fridge insurance would cover the cost of repairs, parts and labour. There may be an upper limit per claim with some insurance companies, but this will vary from company to company. It is also worth noting that a minority of fridge insurance companies might introduce a maximum number of hours per repair.

So for example, if the repair took three hours and you were only covered for a maximum of two hours per repair, then you would be expected to cover the additional hour.

How Quickly Would My Fridge Be Repaired?

In reality, this is impossible to guarantee. However, many insurance companies would look to have an engineer with you within 24 hours of your claim. They tend to carry the more common replacement parts, but if there was an additional issue with your machine, they may need to order different parts and return later to finish the repair.

What if My Fridge Was Not Repairable?

Such is the competition amongst insurance for white goods that many policies today would see an unrepairable machine replaced on a like-for-like basis. It may not be the exact make and model that you had, but there will be occasions where your insurance company will provide a similar replacement.

This can obviously be extremely helpful from both a practical and financial point of view. Some companies might expect you to contribute to the cost of the replacement fridge, so it is definitely worth checking the small print.

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