Fridge disposal requires special consideration due to the presence of harmful chemicals within them
The Ins and Outs of Appliance Disposal
For starters, lets look at why refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners are not collected during garbage pickups.
History of Refrigeration
Back in the 1920s, Freon was introduced as an alternate chemical for refrigeration. It was safer than the other commonly used refrigerants at the time—sulfur dioxide and methyl formate—but its hazards were as yet unknown. And those hazards would prove to be far more dangerous, to far more people.
So what exactly is Freon and why is it dangerous? Freon is a collection of chemicals more commonly known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). While it is far less volatile than previous refrigerant chemicals, its dangers are more far-reaching.
In the 1970s, scientists discovered that our ozone layer had a hole in it. The ozone layer prevents harmful UVB rays from penetrating our atmosphere. Fears mounted that the growing hole would increase levels of sunburns, skin cancer, and cataracts, as well as damage to our environment. Scientists scrambled to figure out what caused the hole and how to stop it from growing.
By the 1980s, they realized one of the causes of the hole was due to ozone-depleting substances (ODS), like CFCs, HFCs, and HCFCs. In 1987, the Montreal Protocol was signed by 46 countries worldwide, effectively creating a phase-out of chemical productions that depleted the earth’s ozone layer. Today, many amendments have been added and almost 200 countries have signed the protocol. These bans have effectively seen the growth stop, and scientists see signs that the ozone layer is recovering.
Fridge Disposal Today
While bans on producing ODSs have worked to reduce the harm to the ozone layer, there are still many fridges, freezers, and other refrigerant-based appliances out there that contain CFCs. Those appliances might do no harm in your home, but the gases and chemicals inside of them can still damage the ozone layer. In order to safely dispose of them, the chemicals need to be extracted by a licensed technician, before the rest of the unit can be recycled. So while places like Zubicks will gladly take your old fridge, it needs to have a CFC certificate attached, stating that any and all CFCs, HFCs, and HCFCs have been removed by a licensed technician.