Guidance for Existing and Prospective Partners
Partners in EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) Program help protect the ozone layer and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by disposing of old, inefficient refrigerated appliances using the best environmental practices and technologies available. By meeting program requirements and going above what is required by law to remove appliance foam, partners can reduce emissions of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and greenhouse gases (GHGs), and will be publicly recognized for doing so. RAD partners also help keep communities safe by ensuring that hazardous materials, such as mercury, PCBs, and used oil, are not released into the environment.
Joining the program may also serve as a way to document efforts, voluntary commitments, or pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, partners that actively encourage the removal of old appliances from the electricity grid (e.g., by providing monetary incentives for old, working appliances) will also reduce energy demand and GHG emissions associated with electricity generation.
What Does Proper Disposal of Refrigerated Appliances Entail?
Responsible disposal of refrigerated appliances involves the proper recovery and treatment of refrigerant, foam, mercury, PCBs, and used oil, as explained in detail below.
The refrigerant contained in household appliances can deplete the ozone layer and/or contribute to climate change if released. At the appliance’s end-of-life, refrigerant should be properly recovered using EPA-certified refrigerant recovery equipment.
Technicians disposing of/dismantling appliances are not required to be certified. However, disposal companies must certify to their EPA regional office that they have acquired and are properly using refrigerant recovery/recycling equipment.
Appliance insulating foam has traditionally been manufactured using blowing agents that contribute to ozone layer depletion and/or climate change if released. To prevent emissions of the foam blowing agent to the atmosphere, RAD partners agree to remove the insulating foam prior to the disposal of the appliance, either manually or by using an automated system. Partners then either send the insulating foam to a destruction facility, or use advanced technology to mechanically separate the liquid blowing agent for reclamation or destruction.
Mercury is regulated by the EPA as a toxic substance. Potential adverse health effects from exposure to mercury include tremors, headaches, repiratory failure, reproductive and developmental abnormalities, and potentially, cancers. Therefore, in accordance with federal hazardous waste regulations (40 CFR 273), mercury waste must be recovered from switches and relays found in appliances prior to their disposal. These wastes must be handled by a qualified recovery facility that has appropriate hazardous waste management permits. At approved facilities, mercury wastes are managed in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local hazardous waste regulations (e.g., waste must be properly packaged prior to transport). For more information on the regulatory requirements specific to mercury waste, visit http://www.epa.gov/mercury/environmental-laws-apply-mercury. For more information on the proper storage of hazardous waste, visit http://www3.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/tsd/index.htm.
If improperly handled, used oil can leak into groundwater and major waterways and pollute drinking water sources. Used oil from appliances may contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals which are dangerous to human health. Therefore, used oil removed from appliances must be properly managed in accordance with the federal used oil management standards (40 CFR 279), or applicable state regulations. Once used oil is recovered, it must be stored in appropriate containers that are in good condition, with no visible leaks. Additionally, according to part 279, refrigerant contaminating the used oil should be recovered. Used oil removed from refrigerated appliances cannot be mixed with used oil from other sources.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are regulated by the EPA as toxic substances (40 CFR 761). PCBs may cause cancer, liver damage, and can have negative impacts on the neurological development of children, the human reproductive system, the immune system, and the endocrine system. PCBs can be found in the capacitors (used to store electrical charge in the compressor) of older refrigerated appliances. If the capacitor fails to state “contains no PCBs” or the capacitor (or appliance) was manufactured before 1979, one should assume that the capacitor contains PCBs. By law, PCB capacitors may not be stored for more than one year. EPA-approved storage and disposal companies can assist you in properly handling any PCB capacitors recovered from appliances. To find an EPA-approved PCB storage facility near you, visit http://www3.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/tsd/pcbs/pubs/waste.htm. To find an EPA-approved PCB disposal company near you, visit https://www.epa.gov/pcbs/list-polychlorinated-biphenyl-pcb-disposal-approvals-epa-region.
What Recordkeeping/ Reporting Requirements Apply to RAD Partners?
EPA provides partners with a user-friendly reporting form to be completed and submitted annually to the EPA. Based on user inputs, the electronic reporting form automatically calculates the environmental benefits of partner activities, such that each partner can see the positive impacts that have resulted from their disposal programs.
Specifically, RAD Partners must report on the following program information annually:
- The number of appliances collected;
- Type and quantity of refrigerants recovered and subsequently reclaimed/destroyed;
- Type and quantity of foam blowing agent destroyed;
- Weight of metals, plastics, and glass recycled;
- Quantity of hazardous waste products recovered; and
- Energy savings information associated with retirement of old appliances (if applicable).