How to Dispose of Old Refrigerator?

Getting rid of an old refrigerator can be a daunting task due to its size and environmental concerns.

But don’t worry, there are several methods to dispose of your old fridge in a safe and responsible way.

In this article, we will explore simple and practical steps for disposing of your refrigerator while keeping the environmental impacts to a minimum.

You might be wondering why disposing of a refrigerator requires special care. Refrigerators contain refrigerants, such as chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), which can harm the environment if released improperly.

In addition, fridges are made of materials that can and should be recycled to reduce waste and make the most of our resources.

In the following sections, we will discuss various options for disposing of your old fridge, from recycling programs to waste collection services. By following these guidelines, you’ll not only contribute to a cleaner environment but also make the process of saying goodbye to your old refrigerator much easier.

When Should You Replace Your Refrigerator?

If your refrigerator can no longer keep your food cold or prevent it from getting bad, it probably means you need to get it replaced. 

Before you decide to dispose of your fridge, check with an electrician to see what the problem could be and if there is a way to fix it.

You can also do a simple test at home by following the steps below:

  1. High temperature: your refrigerator comes with a regulator. Check the dial to make sure it is turned to a lower temperature that cools properly.
  2. Compressor: Compressor is present on the back of your refrigerator. Listen to the sound of the motor running along with the temperature to see if the compressor is working fine or not.
Also read: How to Dispose of Small Appliances?

Can Refrigerators Be Disposed Of In The Trash?

Casting out a refrigerator when it is no longer used is not as easy as taking out your daily trash.

Refrigerators are large items that are manufactured with electrical and chemical means.

This is why there are a lot of environmental hazards associated with disposing of such items. This makes proper disposal of refrigerators even more important.

Luckily, there are a lot of ways that you can discard a refrigerator safely and effectively.

Also read: How to Recycle Old Radiator

How To Dispose of a Refrigerator?

Let’s head into it directly. Here are eight ways you can dispose of your refrigerator safely.

Option # 1: Book An Appointment With A Waste Collection Company

A refrigerator is an item that is usually too large to be picked up from the curb by your daily trash pick-up services.

You will need to contact several waste collection companies and find out which services suit you the most.

Make sure that you give them a detailed call before you make an appointment with them.

You will need to confirm with the waste collection company which rules are to be followed by you before the pick-up.

Most commonly, the company requires you to unscrew the doors, locks, and hinges from your fridge and have them moved outside your curb so they can collect them.

Make sure you take the help of a friend when moving such bulky items.

Most trash collection companies will dispose of your fridge in a landfill which is why this is not a good or eco-friendly option.

Also read: How to Dispose of Freezer Full of Rotten Meat

Option # 2: Bulk Trash Pick-up Days

Your city’s local waste management company may offer bulk trash pick-up days. There are specific days scheduled by the company that collects bulky waste, such as discarded refrigerators.

Check out the website or call your local waste management service to see which day they offer this service. You will have to move your fridge a few days before pick-up day.

If your city does not have bulk trash pick-up days, you can simply book an appointment with any waste collection company and have them dispose of the refrigerator for you.

Make sure to let the company know beforehand that you want to dispose of a fridge so they can make arrangements to discard/recycle any chemical agents present in it, such as freon or other refrigerants.

Option # 3: Sell Your Fridge to an Electric Company

Many companies offer an exchange plan to buy back an old appliance from their company for a new one. Many companies also offer cash or credit off their next electric bill.

Call your electric company to see if they participate in any such programs so you can receive some rebate from them.

Again, you will need to have your fridge moved to the curb a few days before the scheduled pick-up time.

However, some electric companies also offer pick-up from inside the house, so confirm with them beforehand.

Option # 4: Hand Over Your Fridge to an Appliance Dealer

Many appliance dealers will buy your used fridge. Check with your local shops and ask if they have any policies on old appliances.

Most dealers will take your old fridge and repair it to sell it again. They may also recycle the parts and use or sell them.

This is a win-win situation as you are getting rid of the waste while your appliance dealer makes use of that trash.

Option # 5: Give Your Fridge to a Recycling Center

Recycling centers are now becoming common everywhere. These centers recycle all components of your objects safely.

Lookup any recycling center near you that takes part in the Responsible Appliance Disposal program and give it to them.

Rest assured, they will safely remove all contaminants before recycling them.

Most recycling centers also offer pick-up services from your house.

Option # 6: Sell Your Fridge to a Scrapyard

Scrapyards are also similar to recycling centers that will recycle all the metal from your fridge for other purposes.

Contact your local scrap yard and see if they accept refrigerators.

You will need to arrange for transportation from your house to the scrapyard.

Option # 7: Resell Your Refrigerator

If you have decided to upgrade to a new fridge, but your old one is still in working condition, consider reselling it. Many people prefer getting a second-hand fridge.

Therefore, you can always pitch in the money you get from selling the old one to buy the new one.

You can take your fridge to your nearest market to get a fair price on it or consider selling it online.

Many authentic, online markets/sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, etc., are available where you can easily sell off your refrigerator.

Option #8: Giving Away Your Refrigerator

Giving away or donating your refrigerator if it is in working condition is always a better option than disposing of or throwing it away.

Contact your local charities or other donation centers to see if they require such articles. Let them know the size and measurements of the fridge and its condition.

The organization will have it picked up from your house or make arrangements to deliver it.

That way, your waste could become useful for somebody else.

Make sure your fridge is cleaned from the inside out and is in good working condition. Avoid donating it if it has too many problems as that will not be useful for anyone.

Also read: How to Dispose of a Microwave Oven?

Option #9: Repurposing your old refrigerator

If your old refrigerator still functions and you’re creative, you might consider repurposing it.

Transforming the refrigerator into a storage unit, bookcase, or even a planter for your garden can give it a new lease on life while keeping it out of the landfill.

Keep in mind that maintaining its original look and design elements is essential for creating an interesting and functional repurposed piece.

By considering these options for selling and repurposing your old refrigerator, you can make a positive impact on the environment while ensuring proper disposal in accordance with federal laws.

Also read: How to Dispose of Thermostat With Mercury?

Why Is Safe Disposal of Refrigerators Necessary for the Environment?

Refrigerators and other cooling systems such as air conditioners use gases such as CFCs and HFCs as their coolants.

Most refrigerators manufactured before 1995 use CFCs as their coolants, while the more recent ones use HCFCs. However, it all comes down to the same thing.

They both are greenhouse gases that have adverse effects on the environment.

These gases are hundreds to thousands of times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide emissions.

The UV rays break down these gases in the stratosphere, and the chloride hence formed is extremely reactive with ozone. One atom is sufficient to break thousands of ozone molecules at a time.

Since the past decade, most cooling systems have begun using HFCs, which are ozone-friendly gases.

However, they are still greenhouse gases, and there is still a great need for the safe disposal of items like refrigerators that use HFCs.

Best Practices for Responsible Disposal of Refrigerators

When it’s time to dispose of your old refrigerator, it’s crucial to do so in an environmentally responsible manner.

One way to ensure proper disposal is through the Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program, which promotes the best practices for safe and efficient appliance disposal.

First and foremost, contact your local waste management division or an appliance retailer that partners with the RAD program.

These organizations are committed to disposing of refrigerated appliances with minimal environmental impact.

They will help you understand the available disposal options in your area.

Here are a few essential points to consider for the responsible disposal of your old refrigerator:

  • Unplug and empty the refrigerator: Before disposing of your refrigerator, unplug it and empty it completely. This includes removing all food and cleaning any shelves, drawers, or compartments.
  • Use a licensed recycler: Make sure you choose a licensed recycler to dispose of the refrigerator. These recyclers work with the RAD program and follow the best practices for disposing of refrigerants and insulating foam, which can be harmful to the environment if not handled properly.
  • Capture the refrigerant: Refrigerants used in older models can deplete the ozone layer and contribute to climate change. Proper handling and disposal of these refrigerants are crucial to reduce their environmental impact. Ensure that the recycler captures and safely disposes of the refrigerant.
  • Recycle the materials: The metals, plastics, and glass components in your refrigerator can be recycled. Encourage the recycler to separate these materials during the disposal process to maximize recycling opportunities.
  • Dispose of the foam insulation: Refrigerators made before 2005 often contain foam insulation with ozone-depleting and climate-impacting substances. Ensure that the recycler captures and disposes of these materials in accordance with the RAD program guidelines.

By following these best practices, you can ensure the responsible disposal of your old refrigerator, minimizing the negative impact on the environment.

Always work with professionals, such as those participating in the RAD program, to guarantee that your refrigerator is disposed of safely and responsibly.

Disposal Regulations for Old Refrigerators

When it comes to disposing of an old refrigerator, there are several federal laws and regulations you need to be aware of.

The reason for these regulations is that refrigerators typically contain harmful refrigerants, such as chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) or hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), which can cause serious environmental issues if not properly disposed of.

First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that you cannot simply place your old refrigerator out with your regular trash.

As a matter of fact, depending on the age of your refrigerator, dumping it may even be against federal law due to the oils and refrigerants it contains.

To ensure proper disposal of refrigerators, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established the Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) program.

RAD is a voluntary partnership that works with various entities such as utilities, retailers, manufacturers, and state and local government agencies to ensure the best environmental practices are followed while disposing of old refrigerated appliances.

For refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment that needs to be dismantled on-site before disposal, the EPA requires that the refrigerant be recovered following their regulations for servicing prior to disposal.

So, if you’re looking to dispose of your old refrigerator, make sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Do not dispose of your refrigerator with regular trash.
  • Check if there are any local or state laws that may impose additional requirements for disposal.
  • Always consult with a professional who specializes in refrigerator disposal to ensure you follow proper guidelines.
  • Consider participating in the RAD program or contacting a RAD partner in your area to help with the disposal process.

By following these disposal regulations, you can ensure that you’re doing your part in protecting the environment and complying with federal laws.

Also read: How to Dispose of a Coffee Maker?

How Different Components of a Refrigerator Affect the Environment?


The major part of refrigerators is made up of foam which is a great insulating material. The foam contains ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gases that are harmful to the environment.

Other cooling systems such as air conditioners do not have foam, and all refrigerators manufactured after 2005 consist of climate-friendly foam. Hence, these are eco-friendly.

Hazardous Component

As previously mentioned, there are a lot of chemical substances present in most household appliances, such as refrigerators.

Most commonly found hazardous materials in refrigerators include mercury, used oil, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

For instance, the oil present in the cooling circuit contains refrigerants that are ozone-depleting substances.

Similarly, most refrigerators manufactured before 2005 contain extremely toxic mercury, and most appliances manufactured before 1979 may contain PCB.

These substances are not just bad for the environment but could be toxic for your health too. This is why it is of the utmost importance to dispose of any such items correctly.

Is It Possible To Recycle A Refrigerator?

Yes, it is possible to recycle a refrigerator.

There are proper facilities present in most cities that safely remove any hazardous components from refrigerators before other parts of it can be recycled.

Also read: How to Dispose of Vacuum Cleaner

Tips to Follow Before Disposing of a Refrigerator

  1. Unplug your refrigerator and leave it to defrost for a few hours.
  2. Make sure all eatables have been removed.
  3. Fix any loose items such as shelves and other compartments with tape to prevent them from falling.
  4. Make sure not to lift the fridge alone. Take help from another person or let professionals handle it.
Also read: How to Dispose of Dishwasher?

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some common queries people have about disposing of old refrigerators.

What is the proper way to discard a non-working refrigerator?

To dispose of a non-working refrigerator, you should contact a waste service that specializes in picking up large appliances.

It is crucial to ensure that refrigerants and other hazardous materials are properly handled and not released into the environment.

Many refrigerators contain ozone-depleting substances (ODS) that can harm the ozone layer and contribute to global climate change if not disposed of correctly.

Where can I find refrigerator disposal services near me?

To find refrigerator disposal services in your area, you can contact your local waste management company or check the websites of national appliance disposal services.

Some companies have an online lookup tool to help you find local providers. You can also ask for recommendations from the store where you purchased your new refrigerator, as they may have partnerships with disposal companies.

Are there any companies that offer free pick up for old refrigerators?

Some companies, especially those affiliated with utility companies or energy-saving programs, may offer free pick-up services for old refrigerators.

It is advisable to check with your local electric utility or state energy office to learn about available programs.

Keep in mind that eligibility and availability may vary depending on your location and the age and condition of the refrigerator.

How can I recycle my old refrigerator for cash?

Several retailers, manufacturers, and programs offer cash incentives for recycling old refrigerators.

You can inquire about cash rebates when purchasing a new refrigerator, as some retailers provide this benefit.

Additionally, some utility companies and energy efficiency programs also offer cash incentives for recycling your old refrigerator. Check with your local provider or utility company to confirm the availability of such programs in your area.

What is the process for refrigerator disposal by waste management?

When disposing of your old refrigerator through a waste management company, they will typically schedule a pick-up appointment, collect the appliance, and transport it to a recycling facility.

At the recycling facility, professionals will safely remove hazardous substances (such as refrigerants), reclaim recyclable materials, and properly dispose of any remaining components.

Is refrigerator recycling with a cash incentive available in my area?

Refrigerator recycling with cash incentives depends on your location. To find out if such a program exists in your area, you can contact your local electric utility company or state energy office.

They will have information on any available cash-for-recycling programs and help determine your eligibility for participating in them.

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