How to Dispose of a Refrigerator Properly

Learn more about the available options to consider when disposing of an old refrigerator 
Deirdre Mundorf Avatar
how to dispose of a refrigerator

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Q: My refrigerator isn’t going to make it much longer, so I’m about to order a new one. However, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to get rid of the older one; I doubt the trash company would take it if I put it out on the curb with my weekly pickup. Can you tell me how to dispose of a refrigerator?

A: When it’s time to replace your refrigerator, it is important to properly dispose of your old model. You cannot simply put an old refrigerator out for regular trash pick up. In fact, depending on the age of your refrigerator, it may even be against federal law to dump it due to the oils, refrigerants, and other substances they contain.

Rather, you’ll need to find an appropriate way to dispose of your refrigerator so these substances can be safely removed. Only after can the metals, such as steel, and other components of the refrigerator be recycled. Continue reading to learn more about how to dispose of a refrigerator and the various options that are available.

Donate a working refrigerator.

Even if you are ready for a refrigerator upgrade, your used fridge may still have a lot of useful life left in it. The average refrigerator lasts between 10 and 15 years, and some can keep running much longer than that.

If your used refrigerator is still functional, consider donating it to someone in need. If you ask around, a friend, family member, or neighbor may be looking for a replacement for their fridge, or even a second refrigerator for their basement or garage. You can also check with local schools or charitable organizations to see if they have a need for your old refrigerator.

Check if there is a Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) partner in your area.

According to Section 608 of the Clean Air Act, refrigerants that contain hydrofluorocarbons or ozone depleters must be released from an appliance before disposal. In 2006, the EPA created the Responsible Appliance Disposal Program, known as RAD, to help individuals adhere to these regulations. The RAD partnership was also developed to take steps to reduce greenhouse gasses and protect Earth’s ozone layer.

If there is a RAD partner in your area, they can work with you to properly dispose of your old refrigerator. Searching for “refrigerator disposal near me” may help you locate a local RAD partner. Alternatively, you can search for RAD partner programs in your state on the EPA’s website.

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how to dispose of a refrigerator

Your electric utility company may pick up an old refrigerator.

Some electric utility companies also offer refrigerator disposal services. You can reach out to your power company to see if this is a service they provide. If so, you can make an appointment for them to come and remove the refrigerator from your home.

Before finalizing the appointment, be sure to confirm whether you will need to put the old fridge outside or if they will come in to remove it from your home. In some cases, the electric company may only take your fridge if it is still functional.

If your electric company offers disposal services, you may even receive a check or bill credit for replacing an old refrigerator with an energy-efficient model. Be sure to ask about this when you speak with the representative about getting rid of your old refrigerator.

See if your waste management company offers a used appliance recycling program.

When you’ve determined that there is no point in trying to repair your refrigerator and it is time to replace it with a new one, your waste management company may offer a recycling program for used appliances. Contact the company that picks up your trash to see if this is a service they offer. Be sure to let them know that they will be picking up a refrigerator so they can prepare to properly dispose of the refrigerant.

In some cases, your waste management company may offer set bulk pick-up dates where they will remove appliances or other large items from the curb in front of your home. Your city or community may also offer bulk pick-up services. Check with your local government to see if this is an option and to determine the next collection date.

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how to dispose of a refrigerator

Some retailers will refurbish or recycle your used fridge when you buy a new one.

Some refrigerator manufacturers and appliance stores offer removal services when they deliver your new appliance. They may try to refurbish your refrigerator, or if it isn’t fixable, they will take care of removing the refrigerant and recycling or disposing of the rest of the components.

In many cases, you’ll need to pay for removal of your own unit, but some retailers may offer it for free. As you’re looking for the best place to buy a refrigerator, consider asking the sales representatives whether they will remove your old appliance, and, if so, how much they’ll charge. You can also ask what they’ll do with your old refrigerator, if recycling is an important factor for you. This may help you narrow down your choices and make the decision about where to purchase your new refrigerator a little easier.

Sell an old refrigerator to a local scrap metal recycler.

Before searching for “free appliance recycling near me,” look to see if there are any local scrap metal recyclers who might buy your old fridge from you. Scrapyards will remove the refrigerant and collect any metals or other components that can be repurposed.

Some scrap metal recyclers in your area may also participate in the RAD program. Even if they aren’t willing to purchase your refrigerator from you, you can still drop it off and feel confident that it will be properly disposed of.

Related: How to Dispose of a Microwave Properly

how to dispose of a refrigerator

If the fridge is in good condition, try selling it online.

If you’re just looking to upgrade to one of the best new refrigerator models and your old fridge still functions properly, then you may be able to sell it online. Somebody locally may be looking for a used fridge to save some money instead of purchasing a brand-new model.

You can look into online sale websites such as Facebook Marketplace or local yard sale groups to see if anyone is interested in purchasing your old refrigerator. When pricing your fridge, consider its age, condition, capacity, and original value. You can also check to see what similar models are going for online to help you price yours appropriately. If you’re looking for someone to pick it up quickly, consider listing it for a reduced price.