GE Appliances & Lighting became the first appliance manufacturer to partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) Program to help protect the ozone layer and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The EPA's voluntary program focuses on refrigeration appliance recycling best practices, including the recovery of foam in used refrigerators, and is consistent with GE's ecomagination initiative to deploy solutions for today's energy and environmental challenges.
Approximately nine million refrigerators are disposed of annually in the U.S., and only a fraction has the insulating foam in their walls and doors recycled. While 90 percent of used refrigerators in the U.S. are shredded for their metal, the remaining foam and other materials typically go to a landfill1. During the shredding process, a substantial amount of GHG and ozone-depleting substance (ODS) emissions are released into the atmosphere.
GE, ARCA partner to lead refrigeration recycling movement
Integral to GE's partnership on the EPA RAD Program, is an agreement with Appliance Recycling Centers of America, Inc. (Nasdaq: ARCI) to supply used-appliance volume from a six-state region to ARCA Advanced Processing's regional recycling center in Pennsylvania. ARCA is investing in proven appliance recycling technology from UNTHA Recycling Technology (URT) that recovers approximately 95 percent of the insulating foam in refrigerators, reducing landfill waste and GHG and ODS emissions as compared to what typically happens in the industry today.
"GE's commitment to develop and deploy solutions to today's environmental challenges is a top priority," said GE Appliances & Lighting President and CEO James Campbell. "We have made major investments in home energy management and supported aggressive energy-efficiency standards for appliances. Working with the EPA and ARCA on responsible appliance disposal is another great step forward in the spirit of GE's ecomagination initiative."
"GE and ARCA's management of refrigerators, particularly the foam insulation, during the recycling process is innovative and raises the bar in the U.S. appliance industry," said Drusilla Hufford, Stratospheric Protection Division Director of the EPA. "As the first appliance manufacturer to join EPA's RAD Program, GE is demonstrating leadership by responsibly recycling appliances and reducing harmful emissions to help protect our planet."
Today, the U.S. appliance recycling industry is very fragmented with wide variation in processes and little investment in foam recycling technology. GE and ARCA have plans to vastly improve appliance recycling and refrigerator foam recovery in the U.S. These joint efforts will significantly reduce landfill waste and GHG and ODS emissions.
Not only do GE and the EPA believe recycling refrigerant-containing appliances is a critical step in protecting our environment, but a recent survey2 conducted on behalf of GE suggests 70 percent of consumers want all or part of their used appliance to be recycled.
New investment in technology is a game changer
"ARCA prides itself on innovation," said Jack Cameron, ARCA President and CEO. "The technology we're investing in - a precise, sealed and fully-automated refrigerator recycling system - will be the first URT system in North America. With GE's logistics expertise and customer relationships and ARCA's investment in this leading-edge technology, this partnership is a game-changer for U.S. appliance recycling."
The URT system includes the capability to automatically capture the blowing agents, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and cyclopentane from the insulating foam in refrigerators and freezers. GE and ARCA's initial recycling efforts will begin at ARCA Advanced Processing's regional recycling center in Pennsylvania. The center is on schedule to be fully operational in the first quarter of 2011.
"The potential of this technology is tremendous," said Brian Conners, President and COO of ARCA Advanced Processing. "If the foam from the 9 million refrigerators disposed of annually in the U.S. were processed through this recycling technology, the greenhouse gas emissions avoided would be equivalent to the annual CO2-e emissions of more than 2.4 million cars on U.S. roads."
About GE Appliances & Lighting
GE Appliances & Lighting spans the globe as an industry leader in major appliances, lighting, systems and services for commercial, industrial and residential use. Technology innovation and the company's ecomagination℠ initiative enable GE Appliances & Lighting to aggressively bring to market products and solutions that help customers meet pressing environmental challenges. General Electric (NYSE: GE), imagination at work, sells products under the Monogram®, Profile™, GE®, Hotpoint®, Reveal® and Energy Smart® consumer brands, and Tetra®, Vio™ and Immersion® commercial brands. For more information, consumers may visit www.ge.com.
About GE's ecomagination
GE is driving a global energy transformation with a focus on innovation and R&D investment to accelerate the development and deployment of clean energy technology. Since its inception in 2005, more than 90 ecomagination-approved products have been brought to market with revenues reaching $18 billion in 2009. With $5 billion invested in R&D its first five years, GE committed to doubling its ecomagination investment and collaborate with partners to accelerate a new era of energy innovation. The company will invest $10 billion in R&D over five years and double operational energy efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption. As part of the initiative, GE launched "GE ecomagination Challenge: Powering the Grid", a $200 million financial commitment challenging innovators to join in developing clean energy technologies. It is extending this Challenge with the "GE ecomagination Challenge: Powering Your Home," to develop technologies that help households manage their energy usage. For more information, visit the ecomagination website at http://ge.ecomagination.com/index.html.
About Appliance Recycling Centers of America
ARCA (www.ARCAInc.com), one of the nation's largest recyclers of major household appliances for the energy conservation programs of electric utilities, currently provides services for 150 utility programs in the U.S. and Canada. Toxic chemicals and environmentally harmful materials such as ozone-depleting refrigerants, PCBs, mercury and oil are carefully recovered in the decommissioning process for destruction or disposal, preventing them from contaminating soil, air and water resources. The company is also the exclusive North American distributor for UNTHA Recycling Technology (URT), a materials recovery system for household refrigeration appliances.
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