Big Goals for Philadelphia Refrigerator Recycling Project

GE and ARCA Inc. announced Sept. 9 that the UNTHA Recycling Technology system was ready to crunch its first refrigerator. It will recover about 95 percent of the insulating foam, plus high-quality plastics, aluminum, copper, and steel.

The new UNTHA Recycling Technology system at the Appliance Recycling Centers of America (ARCA)'s Philadelphia facility is a 40-foot-tall machine capable of breaking down 150,000 used refrigerators annually, and it's ready to go to work, ARCA Inc. and GE announced Sept. 9. The facility hired 50 employees to work at the facility as part of ARCA's $10 million investment in URT and other new capital equipment.

Since February, the two companies said, they have doubled the number of states served, with the resulting 100,000 additional appliance units coming to the Pennsylvania facility from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Consumers bring used refrigerators to participating retailers, who then send them to ARCA as part of GE's participation in the EPA Responsible Appliance Disposal program.

URT will recover about 95 percent of the insulating foam in refrigerators, in addition to high-quality plastics, aluminum, copper, and steel. It will reduce the typical landfall waste of a refrigerator by 85 percent while lowering greenhouse gases and ozone-depleting emissions recovered from insulating foam. Steel recovered by URT will be sold to a supplier for processing into steel deck plate for use by GE Transportation in building locomotives.

"We've created a sustainable business model that's good for both the environment and the economy," said ARCA President and CEO Jack Cameron. "We have a viable business that has the potential to grow well beyond the 12 states we now serve. The AAP facility in Philadelphia is a true investment in our environment, our economy, and our community. ARCA's goal is to ensure the success of this program so it can be replicated throughout the country."

According to GE, 70 percent of consumers want all or part of their appliance recycled.

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