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Fridge recycling

January 4, 2011

In Brazil, a novel recycling project cleanly disposes of old refrigerators that harm the climate.

GettyImages 89759230 LIVONIA, MI - AUGUST 12: Hundreds of old refrigerators fill the new JACO Environmental recycling plant August 12, 2009 in Livonia, Michigan. DTE Energy collected more than 1000 refrigerators from its Detroit Edison customers by offering them $50 to turn in their older model energy-inefficient refrigerators and freezers as part of their new Cash-For Clunkers Appliance Program. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)
KühlschränkeImage: Getty Images

Project goal: Climate-friendly disposal of old refrigerators
Project scale: The new recycling plant can dispose of 400,000 old appliances per year, recovering harmful chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs from the cooling systems and those contained in the foam insulation
Project investment: Over 5 million euros ($6.70 million), of which 3,5 million was earmarked for the recycling plant

Televisions and refrigerators are an integral part of every Brazilian household, and families who can't afford new ones buy them second-hand. The result is that one in ten refrigerators in Brazil is more than 16 years old, and therefore a long way from being green: the old appliances contain gases called CFCs. Their disposal releases high levels of these environmentally harmful gases into the atmosphere. At a state-of-the-art recycling plant run by the International Climate Initiative in Brazil, the old refrigerators can now be cleanly disposed off in a process that captures many millions of tonnes of carbon.

A film by Vanessa Fischer