1 Millionth Recycled Refrigerator

By Gene Rodrigues

Last week was a huge milestone for Southern California Edison — we recycled our 1 millionth refrigerator. A million refrigerators is enough to fill a football stadium.

Partners from EPA’s ENERGY STAR and Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) programs and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) helped us celebrate at the Appliance Recycling Centers of America (ARCA) facility in Compton, Calif. Jared Blumenfeld, the administrator of EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region, joined us to watch the ceremonial appliance crushing.

We are proud to have been one of the founding partners of EPA’s RAD program. In fact, I was at the launch event in October 2006. Since then, we’ve continued to be a leader in ensuring that old, inefficient fridges are taken off the grid and properly recycled. That includes recovering harmful substances found in the refrigerant and insulating foam.

As a RAD partner, we’ve avoided emissions of more than 170,000 pounds of substances that harm the ozone layer, and about 3.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s the equivalent of removing 760,000 cars from the road.

In celebrating this milestone, SCE must also give credit to the California Public Utilities Commission and the NRDC, two organizations that provide incredible support for policies that encourage energy efficiency. And of course, without ARCA, and our other recycling partners, a million refrigerators could be disposed improperly, creating extensive damage to the environment.

ARCA began operations in California in 1993 as part of the Rebuild Los Angeles initiative following the civil unrest that occurred at that time. Since then, SCE’s recycling program provided nearly 75 percent of this facility’s business, with 63 full-time employees dedicated to the SCE work – with a 25 percent increase in staff during the busy summer months. For many of these employees, it’s the first time they worked for a company that offered healthcare, educational and vacation benefits.

If you’re curious about what refrigerator recycling looks like, here’s a short film featuring some major crushing action.

And finally, thank you to our customers and to utility customers across the nation who understand that the cleanest, cheapest kilowatt hour is the one you never use.

About the author: Gene Rodrigues, SCE Director, Customer Energy Efficiency and Solar