EPA develops responsible appliance
The United States Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) has initiated a voluntary program with western utility companies
to promote environmentally responsible disposal of household appliances.
Responsible Appliance Disposal, or RAD, EPA's new voluntary program,
aims to partner with utilities to reap environmental benefits through
responsible appliance disposal.
As part of the program, EPA will serve as a technical
clearinghouse on responsible appliance disposal program development
and implementation. The utility companies will encourage consumers
to retire old refrigerators, freezers, air conditioning units, and
dehumidifiers, and implement best practices for the recycling/disposal
of these units.
Currently in the United States, there are approximately
132 million household refrigerators, 54 million stand-alone freezers,
43 million air conditioning units, and 24 million dehumidifiers.
Of the refrigerators and freezers, about 23 million are secondary
units stored in people’s basements or garages.
Overall, approximately 13 million refrigerators/freezers,
4.5 million air conditioning units, and 1.8 million dehumidifiers
are disposed of each year, typically without recovery of foam. Up
to 40% of disposed refrigerators/freezers are re-sold—meaning
that they are put back on the domestic electricity grid, or exported
to developing countries, where they are unlikely to be handled responsibly
There is great potential to significantly reduce
energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by removing
old units from the power grid and disposing of them properly.
With regards to the handling of household appliances
at end-of-life, Federal law requires that: all refrigerant be recovered
prior to dismantling or disposal (40 CFR Part 82 Subpart F); and
universal waste (e.g., mercury), used oil, and PCBs be properly
managed and stored (40 CFR Parts 273, 279, 761).
State laws may have additional requirements. For
example, some States require that certain durable appliance materials
be recycled. At this time, no Federal or State laws require that
appliance foam or the ODS blowing agent in the foam be removed and
To date, more than 45 utilities have implemented
appliance disposal programs across the country—more than 15
of which are still ongoing.