Livonia, Michigan - DTE Energy has begun dismantling more than 1000 old refrigerators turned in by customers of its Detroit Edison unit as part of a "cash-for-clunkers" appliance recycling programme launched by DTE in June. Typically, "white goods" products such as refrigerators and freezers use polyurethane foam as insulation.
"Refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 1990 typically use three times more electricity than new appliances and can cost a typical household an average of $150 a year to run," said Detroit Edison ceo, Steven Kurmas.
The refrigerators will be dismantled at a recently opened recycling plant in Livonia, which is expected to recycle more than 50 000 old working refrigerators and freezers over the next three years - 30 000 of which will come from DTE customers. Jaco Environmental, owner and operator of the recycling plant, will dismantle the refrigerators using "a mechanised process that prevents toxic oils, mercury and greenhouse gasses from escaping into the environment," a 12 Aug statement said.
"They're really time-bombs unless properly handled," said Michael Dunham, a member of the United Nations Environment Program task force and director of Energy and Environmental Programs for Jaco. "Foam insulation and coolant oils exposed to the air accelerate the build up of greenhouse gases. Jaco's process safely recycles 95 percent of the materials from the older units," he added. Dunham said that the foam is safely incinerated into electricity and "the overall beneficial impact on global warming alone is equal to taking two cars off the road for a year."
DTE Energy's appliance recycling programme offers Detroit Edison customers $50 for their old model refrigerators and freezers and hauls them away from free, statement said. (RD)