How to Recycle a Refrigerator

Do you have an old refrigerator languishing in your closet or basement, or is it time to upgrade the one in your kitchen? Here's how to figure out when to recycle refrigerators.


Many of us have an old fridge that's broken down and taking up space in the garage or basement, or one that's working but is ancient and inefficient. If the time has come for you to clear the clutter or invest in a new, more energy-efficient version, but you're not sure what to do with the old one, here are some questions and answers to help you properly recycle refrigerators.

Question 1: Does the refrigerator still work?

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Yes: Great. If it works, but you don't need it anymore, you may be able to donate it to an organization, such as a charity or shelter, which will put it to good use. That group may even be able to help you transport it.

No: Skip to Question 2.

Question 2: Are you replacing the refrigerator with a new version?

Yes: The home appliance store that you're purchasing your new appliance from may be able to take your old refrigerator and recycle it for you. At the time of your purchase, ask about free removal. In addition, if you're replacing an inefficient fridge, you may qualify for rebate or removal through your local utility. Did you know: New Energy Star qualified refrigerators use less than half as much energy as ones made prior to 1993.

No: Skip to Question 3.

Question 3: Have you called your local utility or waste disposal company?

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Yes: Refrigerators and freezers have hazardous components, including refrigerants, chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, or other dangerous chemicals that can damage the ozone layer; that in turn affects how and where they can be recycled. Your local waste disposal company may be able to pick it up for you, but they could charge you a fee. However, when they recycle the refrigerator they will remove reusable metals, glass, and plastic.

If your local waste disposal company cannot pick it up, you may need to take it to a recycling center, which can be managed by your local municipality and have specific dates for the drop off of bulk items. Call your area's waste disposal office to find out details.

No: If you know that your municipality does not recycle refrigerators, you can contact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and their Responsible Appliance Disposal program (epa.gov/rad). They will be able to assist you with finding a recycling point. Know that you may have to prepare the refrigerator by removing the door, drawers, and accessories.

NOTE: If your waste disposal company picks up old refrigerators, never leave them curbside with unsecured doors. Either remove the doors or secure them so children cannot open the appliance and crawl inside.

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