GE Helps Retailers Get Involved in Recycling

September 21, 2011

GE has noticed momentum in the responsible appliance disposal initiative at ARCA Advanced Processing’s (AAP) regional recycling facility in Philadelphia, PA.  The initiative now includes the participation of The Home Depot as one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program partners, the addition of six states to AAP’s now 12-state service territory, and a new program to help appliance retailers establish a RAD program partnership.

It’s been found that 70 percent of consumers want all or part of their appliances recycled, and 82 percent will go out of their way to purchase from a retailer that recycles. Sixty-seven percent of customers are also willing to pay more for an appliance if a retailer offers recycling programs.

“Helping retailers get involved in EPA’s RAD Program will differentiate them from their competitors,” said Mark Shirkness, general manager, distribution services, GE Appliances & Lighting. “As the first manufacturer to partner with EPA’s RAD Program, GE is leveraging its relationships with ARCA, AAP and the EPA to get appliance retailers involved in appliance recycling so they can deliver a much-desired service to consumers.”

A key criterion of EPA’s RAD program is the responsible disposal of refrigerators and refrigeration insulating foam. AAP offers that capability, with its UNTHA Recycling Technology (URT) system that can recover approximately 95 percent of the insulating foam in refrigerators, while also lowering greenhouse gas and ozone depleting substance emissions recovered from insulating foam.

States with services offered by AAP include Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware and North Carolina. As part of GE’s initiative to help appliance retailers establish a RAD Program partnership, the company will facilitate the retailer’s relationship with AAP, ARCA and the EPA.

Today, about 40 percent of appliances collected by retailers are resold, putting inefficient, older models back on the grid. “Purchasing an older appliance model does not benefit the environment, as many older models consume quite a bit more electricity than new Energy Star-qualified models,” said Shirkness. As part of this initiative, GE will also encourage retailers to stop reselling used appliances.

Currently, about 90 percent of used appliances in the U.S. are shredded for their metal, while the remaining foam and other materials typically go to a landfill. AAP’s recycling center is capable of processing all appliance products. High-quality materials captured include steel, copper, aluminum, plastic and even foam that is pelletized for use as fuel and other products.

“We envision a day when consumers walk into a retail store and are presented with a myriad of new appliance options – including appliances that are clearly marked with information about the manufacturer’s and retailer’s recycling practices and participation with EPA RAD,” said Shirkness. “RAD is the industry’s marquee recycling program. Similar to Energy Star, it’s designed to create consumer awareness, and we think it can be the deciding factor in the consumer’s purchase decision.”

For more details on which appliance retailers are participating in the GE recycling program, click here.

Pictured: The URT system can process approximately one refrigerator per minute, and ARCA Advanced Processing (AAP) anticipates 150,000 used refrigerators will be processed in the URT system annually.
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