If not treated properly, a single fridge could emit the equivalent of 4.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the same as a car driving 17,300 kilometers. Impressive right?
Every year, millions of electrical and electronic appliances are thrown away across Europe making it the fastest-growing waste stream worldwide. On average, 60% of items placed into the general and bulky item containers could have been recycled.
In Wandre, near Liege, Coolrec’s plant recycles 1.7 million tonnes of fridges every year and 75% small appliances. In the site, old fridges, air conditioning units and many more small and large appliances are piled up for recycling.
Here is where the magic happens. Out of millions of discarded electrical and electronic appliances every year, they make sure nothing really goes to waste. Home appliances are made up of a broad range of materials including precious metals such as gold and platinum, metal circuitry, mixed plastics, fire retardants, and glass - valuable components that are recovered through innovative techniques and given a new life. Which means less ‘virgin’ materials need to be mined from the ground with overall reduced greenhouse gas emissions!
When they are recycled, electrical appliances are dismantled and the different components are sorted. In many electrical products, up to 95% of materials can be recovered for reuse and recycling. The iron extracted from refrigerators for instance, can be used to make railroad tracks generating a huge carbon saving. Similarly, insulation gasses from refrigerants can be used to make roof insulation or plastics in the manufacturing of toys!
Coolrec is a Renewi Specialities subsidiary with sites in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. The company recovers plastics and ferrous and non-ferrous metals from WEEE and transitions them into secondary raw materials. Thanks to the continuous cooperation with home appliance manufacturers, they make it possible to save new raw materials and protect the environment!