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No more ‘lost’ fridges, says Recupel

‘Be Mayo-nicer to the environment by recycling your old fridge, not just your empty bottles and jars’ is a cheeky slogan Belgian recycling group Recupel is using to boost the recycling rate of white goods.

The promotional label is being distributed on mayonnaise jars to raise awareness. Recupel estimates that around 200 000 end-of-life refrigerators and freezers ‘all off the radar’ ever year – most likely due to illegal exports. Around 685 000 of these white goods were put on the Belgian market in 2019 while only about 460 000 were sent for recycling.

It’s likely that 5% of the end-of-life units (almost 35 000) are given a second life via thrift stores or online marketplaces, according to Recupel ceo Eric Dewaet. ‘If we do the maths, taking into account 2019 figures for consumers replacing their old white goods, this means around 190 000 new units enter the market annually,’ he says.

Dewaet stresses that 98% of white goods materials are reusable. ‘A fair number of scrap dealers are doing well and are licensed to collect refrigerators and have no problem handing them over to an accredited processor. We work with them and want to work together with more such companies in the future.

‘Unfortunately, not all scrap dealers respect the rules. Some take out the materials that are still making money and then process the rest of the refrigerator like scrap iron. By not removing the harmful substances manually, which is mandatory by law, these substances can escape and cause serious damage to the environment.’

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