Major household appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, and dehumidifiers contain synthetic refrigerants that are explosive and toxic.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established a voluntary Responsible Appliance Disposal program, but it has only captured a small fraction of refrigerant-containing appliances for safe recycling. Many consumers are unaware of the need to safely manage these appliances and have no place to take them.
Without sustainable funding or enforcement, municipalities nationwide still struggle to safely retire these white goods.
It should be easy for consumers to safely manage refrigerant-containing appliances. PSI advocates for “extended producer responsibility” (EPR) laws that require appliance producers to finance and run convenient recycling programs. EPR programs ensure that appliance disposal is sustainably funded and enforced, with adequate consumer education and outreach. They also encourage appliance producers to find safer alternatives to synthetic refrigerants.
New York City is the first and only U.S. jurisdiction with an EPR law for refrigerant-containing appliances. Since the EPR program was implemented in 2014, appliance producers have collected and safely managed more than 90,000 air conditioners, refrigerators, water coolers, freezers, and dehumidifiers, saving the city over $1,350,000.
These refrigerant chemicals -- including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochloro-fluorocarbons (HCFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) -- also deplete the ozone layer and contribute to climate change.
How We’re Leading the Way
PSI’s research and policy analysis helped New York City with its appliance EPR law. PSI evaluated the efficacy and costs of different ways to implement the program by analyzing the operations existing programs in other countries.
Our technical expertise also helped the city preserve its EPR law in the face of a lawsuit by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
We facilitate the sharing of best practices across borders. PSI is a forum for our network of product stewardship experts to share key lessons, discuss challenges, and develop solutions to establish, promote, and enhance EPR programs for appliances in the U.S. and globally.
How You Can Help
Contact PSI for assistance to develop, pass, and implement an EPR law for refrigerant-containing appliances in your state. You’ll save taxpayer funds, improve safe collection and recycling of appliances and refrigerants, and safeguard the environment from ozone-depleting chemicals and other toxics.
When it’s time to retire your refrigerant-containing appliances, check with your local solid waste agency for safe disposal options. If you are purchasing a new appliance, ask the store if they will haul away your old one for recycling.
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