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Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD)

Partner Roles & Responsibilities

Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) Program logoThis webpage provides additional information on EPA, RAD partner, and state affiliate responsibilities.

EPA Responsibilities

  • Serve as a technical clearinghouse on RAD program development and implementation.
  • Calculate annual and cumulative program benefits in terms of ozone depleting substance (ODS) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission savings and equivalents and, as available, potential cost savings.
  • Provide partner recognition for achievements through press releases, case studies, and social media.

Partner Responsibilities

Implement Best Practices

All RAD partners encourage the retirement of old, energy-inefficient refrigerators, freezers, window air conditioning units, and dehumidifiers, and implement best practices for the recycling/disposal of these units, including:

  • the proper recovery and reclamation or destruction of refrigerant,
  • the proper recovery and reclamation or destruction of insulating foam;
  • the safe disposal of hazardous waste products, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury;
  • the proper recycling of used oil; and
  • the recycling of all recoverable, durable materials including metal, plastic, and glass, to the extent possible.

Download a print-ready version (PDF) of this information.

Refrigerant

At the appliance’s end of life, refrigerant should be properly recovered using EPA-certified refrigerant recovery equipment. Once recovered, refrigerant must either be reclaimed by an EPA-certified reclaimer for reuse, or destroyed using approved destruction technologies.Exit

Foam

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.

Foam Processing Technologies
  • Manual Foam Recovery

    Manual Foam Recovery is performed using saws to cut through appliances and expose the foam insulation, which is then removed by scraping or “fileting.” Once manually removed, appliance foam is bagged with the blowing agent intact and sent for destruction at a waste-to-energy facility. This method is estimated to achieve a blowing agent recovery efficiency of 85%, meaning that only 15% of the blowing agent is released to the environment.

  • Semi-Automated Foam Recovery

    Semi-Automated Foam Recovery is where foam is manually recovered from an appliance, but is then processed using automated technologies to recover the blowing agent from the appliance foam. The automated technologies capture the foam-blowing agent under negative pressure and condense it into liquid form, which is bottled and sent off-site for reclamation or destruction. This method is estimated to achieve a blowing agent recovery efficiency of 85%, meaning that only 15% of the blowing agent is released to the environment.

  • Fully Automated Foam Recovery and Processing

    Fully Automated Foam Recovery and Processing uses automated technologies that both recover and process appliance foam in one step. These technologies shred the whole appliance (with foam intact) in fully enclosed equipment following the removal of refrigerant, used oil, appliance doors, and interior glass and metal shelving. This process results in the highest blowing agent recovery efficiency— estimated at 95%, meaning that only 5% of the blowing agent is released to the environment.

PCBs

PCBs are regulated by EPA as toxic substances (40 CFR 761). PCBs may cause cancer and 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 or disposal facility near you, visit https://www.epa.gov/pcbs/disposal-and-storage-polychlorinated-biphenyl-pcb-waste.

Mercury

Mercury is regulated by EPA as a toxic substance. Potential adverse health effects from exposure to mercury include tremors, headaches, respiratory 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 EPA’s Hazardous Waste webpage.

Used Oil

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 that 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.

Partner Reporting

EPA provides partners with a user-friendly RAD Annual Reporting Form to be completed and submitted annually to EPA. Based on user inputs, the electronic reporting form automatically calculates the environmental benefits of partner activities, allowing each partner to see the positive impacts that have resulted from its disposal programs.

Consistent with the program objectives, partners report available information annually including:

  • Number and age of appliances collected
  • Type and quantity of refrigerant recovered and reclaimed or destroyed
  • Type and quantity of foam blowing agent recovered and reclaimed or destroyed
  • Weight of metals, plastics, and glass recycled
  • Quantity of hazardous waste products and used oil recovered or destroyed
  • Energy savings associated with retirement of old appliances (if applicable)

Other

In addition to the above-mentioned responsibilities to implement best practices and submit an annual report to EPA, all RAD partners:

  • Exchange information on program development, implementation and best practices with other program partners.
  • Appoint a representative as RAD Program Coordinator and notify EPA of any change in the designated liaison.

State Affiliate Responsibilities:

RAD affiliates promote the program to potential partners and increase environmental benefits for their states and communities. RAD affiliates:

  • Promote the RAD program to potential partners within the state through information dissemination and strategic outreach.
  • Serve as a technical clearinghouse/resource on RAD program development and implementation to existing, new, and potential partners within the state.
  • Provide partner recognition for achievement through press releases, articles, and awards.
  • Exchange information on program development, implementation, and best practices with program partners.
  • Appoint a representative as RAD Program Coordinator and notify EPA of any change in the designated liaison.

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