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A Problem With Recycling Refrigerators | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

A Problem With Recycling Refrigerators

Sometimes the best ideas have unintended consequences. This one deals with the cooling of food.

Old refrigerators used coolant fluids that are more environmentally hazardous than what new refrigerators use. This leads to a problem of what to do with an old refrigerator. Energy companies across the United States are working together to help with this problem through programs where they pick  up the old refrigerators, dismantle them, and give the consumer a rebate ranging from $30 to $50.

It sounds great on paper. The hazardous fluids are disposed of more safely. The consumer gets a newer refrigerator that is more energy efficient and doesn’t have to hassle disposal of a large appliance. The rebate check just sweetens the pot.

The problem and unintended consequence?

We now have a shortage of used refrigerators and freezers. Used appliance stores used to have a large quantity of old appliances. No more.

People who could not afford a new refrigerator could buy a used one and still have a method of keeping food cold.

Now, in our quest to save the planet, we have some people who no longer have a means to keep food cold in their own homes.

The recycling of old refrigerators is a great idea. But if an old refrigerator is still working, does it make sense to dismantle it and destroy it when it could help a family who has no other means of keeping food cold? Is there some way we could let someone use the old one until it is truly broken and then dismantle it?

Another solution would be to fund charities to have more money to help those who can’t afford to buy new refrigerators. Or to find ways to lower the prices on refrigerators.

What other solutions do you suggest so we can dispose of appliances responsibly but still help people have a means for cooling food?


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