The best possible approach to recycling end-of-life fridges and freezers is to bring them together with CFC-containing appliances in a single specialist recycling plant, according to a life-cycle assessment study carried out by the Ã–ko-Institut in Darmstadt, Germany.
Modern advanced fridge recycling plants are able to process obsolete refrigeration appliances without prior sorting, irrespective of the refrigerant in the cooling circuit or the blowing agent in the polyurethane foam. The environmental scientists at the Ã–ko-Institut conclude that the joint processing – or ’mixed-mode processing’ – scores higher on all key environmental indicators than any other treatment mode currently being practised in which prior sorting of appliances is performed.
The association is hoping the study’€™s unambiguous conclusions will put an end to any proposals to modify the EU’€™s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive and its associated implementing regulations in EU member states regarding the obligation to remove hydrocarbons from waste fridges and freezers. In the opinion of the European RAL Quality Assurance Association, which guarantees quality in the fridge recycling process, prior sorting of waste appliances should cease because the associated environmental risks are unacceptable.
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