After being in the storage auction business for any serious length of time, you’re bound to come across an old refrigerator. Perhaps the refrigerator is placed in the center of the unit where you and other bidders can easily see it, or maybe it’s buried beneath a pile of rubble. Regardless, as the winning bidder it’s your responsibility to properly dispose of it. And failure to do so could result in your name being blacklisted from future auctions, which can severely hurt your business.
But you can’t just toss an old refrigerator in the trash, nor can you drop it off at a dump. Refrigerators manufactured before 1995 contain the ozone-depleting substance chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If CFC is released into the atmosphere, it will damage the Earth’s ozone layer, which is why old refrigerators must be properly disposed.
Furthermore, some of the older refrigerators may contain the toxic chemical mercury. While it’s since been phased out in favor of safer chemicals, mercury was once used in refrigerator switches and relays. Exposure to this chemical can lead to serious health effects, including neurological disruption.
So, how can you dispose of an old refrigerator? You might be surprised to learn that many counties, cities and utility companies have bounty programs in which they pay for your old refrigerator. Granted, you won’t receive the full retail price, but a little extra spending cash is better than nothing.
“A bounty program is an appliance turn-in program – typically sponsored by a local or regional utility. Through the program, an appliance owner is paid a “bounty” to allow the recycler to collect and recycle their old, inefficient appliance. Some programs also offer rebates and discounts towards the purchase of new ENERGY STAR® qualified models. Most bounty programs have specifications for the appliances they can accept. To find out if bounty programs are offered in your area, try contacting your electricity provider,” wrote the EPA.
If you aren’t able to locate a bounty program in your area, contact your respective department of public works for more information on how to dispose of your old refrigerator. They should guide you on the best approach to safety, and legally, disposing of it. In some cases, they will even offer to send someone to pick up the refrigerator from your location, saving you the tip and hassle of having to haul it off.