Whitegoods are large domestic appliances used for routine chores. Generally speaking they aren’t easily transportable, which separates them from appliances like toasters and mixers. Examples of a common whitegood include a fridge, freezer, microwave oven, stove, dishwasher, washing machine, clothes dryer and air conditioner.
Depending on the condition of the product, it may be accepted by a second-hand dealer or at a reuse centre. Whitegoods are generally disposed of through collection in metal recycling programs, where they are shredded and their metal is recovered. Some charities may accept whitegoods for recycling but many can’t as there is a significant cost in ensuring they are functioning and safe.
Whitegoods contain metals that can easily be recycled and other components that may be of value. What is more important is making sure fridges and freezers are disposed of correctly and degassed, this is important because the refrigerant is a very harmful greenhouse gas when released into the atmosphere.
How to recycle Whitegoods at work
To find a commercial recycling service for a fridge, microwave, dryer, air conditioner or other whitegood visit BusinessRecycling.com.au.
Why recycle Whitegoods?
They contain significant amounts of metal, plastic, insulating material, refrigerant (gases) and other non-renewable and valuable material. Recycling keeps these materials in the economy. It also helps prevent toxic substances such as flame-retardants from entering the environment.
The estimated refrigerant recovery rate for air conditioners is >80% whilst for refrigerators it’s 30-40% (Department of the Environment 2014). Reliable recovery rates across all whitegoods are not currently available in Australia, however these products are a common component of metal recycling programs.
Recycling options for Whitegoods
Some companies operate take-back schemes for their products with the costs built into the purchase price. Service personnel may also remove appliances such as air conditioners as part of new installations.
Additionally there are organisations and second-hand dealers that will accept whitegoods for refurbishing and/or resale.
What happens when Whitegoods are recycled?
Refurbishment: Operational but unwanted whitegoods can be collected and where needed, refurbished for re-use.
Recycling: To safely recycle a fridge, dishwasher, dryer or other appliance hazardous materials such as gases, chemicals or heavy metals need to be removed. The appliance is then crushed or shredded for recycling. Steel, copper and plastics are recovered and reprocessed into new products.