How Fridges Are Recycled at Sims Metal in the UK
“Create a world without waste to preserve our planet” – this is what drives us every day.
Sims Metal constantly puts all its effort into achieving this purpose to contribute to closing the loop and making the world a better place. One of the numerous ways we satisfy our purpose is by recycling old refrigerators and freezers so that their materials can be turned into new appliances!
Refrigerators and freezers are considered one of the most hazardous household appliances because they contain greenhouse gases that, if released into the atmosphere, are extremely damaging for the environment.
To protect the environment from these gases, refrigerators need to be recycled by specialist and licensed companies, like Sims Metal, which know exactly how to dispose of them legally and safely.
There is more, recycling fridges and freezers, saves natural resources and energy because it reduces the need to extract, refine and process raw materials.
Metal recycling is vital to support the circular economy. Thanks to this process, not only does Sims Metal reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save natural resources, but it also provides a feedstock for making new products that can be reintroduced into the economy.
Embark on this journey with us to see how fridge recycling works at Sims Metal, in the UK.
The Fridge Recycling Process at Sims Metal in the UK
At Sims Newport fridge plant, the entire refrigerator is either recycled or processed for energy recovery, we send zero to landfill!
Fridge recycling is crucial to counter climate change, protect our Ozone layer and creating a more sustainable environment. It has two main benefits:
- Protects the environment by stopping the release of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs).
- Preserves natural resources and save energy by recycling metals and plastics that can be reintroduced back into production.
Phase 1 – Recovery
Once the refrigerator has reached our facility, the first phase of the recycling process, CFC recovery, is divided in two stages:
This consists of the manual removal of cables, doors, and the compressor. During this phase, thecompressorisremoved by sealing and cutting the gas pipes to prevent the coolant gases from escaping. Oils, containing CFCs and hydrocarbons, are drained from the compressor using specialist equipment and recycled. The oil and CFCs/ hydrocarbons are separated using ultrasonic technology and cooling circuits. The compressor is now ready to be recycled as well. The fridge carcass is ready for phase two.
This phase consists of cutting and grinding the fridge to liberate and recover the blowing agent in the foam.
Due to the harmful nature of the CFCs and TVOCs used in the manufacturing process of fridges, these gases must be captured.
The foam and the blowing agent are liberated from the fridge carcass using a Querstromzerspaner, also known as Cross Flow Shredder. Due to the explosive nature of the blowing agents, the fridge must be separated in an inert atmosphere.
In the Cross Flow Shredder, we use nitrogen to create the inert atmosphere.
The inert gas that has mixed with the CFCs and TVOCs is then extracted and cooled by liquid nitrogen, in cryogenic heat exchangers to condense the blowing agents. At this point, the recovered gases can then be safely disposed of.
Phase 2 – Separation
The insulation foam is removed from the material stream using sizing technology and the ferrous metals are separated from the material flow using rotary magnets. At the same time, non-ferrous metals, such as aluminium, copper and brass are separated from the remaining plastic material stream using an Eddy Current Separator (ECS).
Phase 3 – Shipping
These individual material streams are now ready be sold to our customers all over the world and melted down for manufacturing purposes to be reused and reintroduced back into the economy.
At the end of the process, we can proudly say the refrigerator has been recycled in the most sustainable way possible:
- We sent ZERO to landfill
- We saved natural resources by returning metal and plastic into the manufacturing supply chain
- We saved energy
- We protected the environment from greenhouse gases
Remember, only licensed recyclers, like Sims Metal, know exactly how to dispose of your fridge or freezer, legally and safely. Sims Metal is a WEEE certified metal recycler.