Now is the perfect time to get rid of old energy-hog appliances. Calhoun County REC, along with most of the RECs in Iowa, is sponsoring a program called Pull the Plug, a recycling and instant rebate program offered to members.
According to ENERGY STAR, the average refrigerator 10 years of age or older contains more than 120 pounds of recyclable steel, and the energy saved by recycling it is equivalent to almost 290 kilowatt-hours. Plus, you can save on energy costs by pulling the plug: bit.ly/retiremyfridge .
Environmental Services of Iowa (ESI), a company based in Adel, is able to “demanufacture” old appliances and safely move the components into recycling or safe disposal. The “big three” hazardous waste products ESI removes from appliances are:
Refrigerant or Freon, found in refrigerators, freezers, window and central air conditioners.
PCBs, found in window and central air conditioning units, microwaves, and furnaces. While this substance was banned from manufacturing processes in 1977, it can still be found in old, existing units.
Mercury switches, found in chest freezers that have a light that comes on when you open the unit to a certain point.
Steps for participating in Pull the Plug
Notify your electric cooperative by phone or email.
Qualifying appliances are old operating refrigerators, freezers, and window air conditioners. Window air conditioners - not central air conditioners - qualify for this rebate, along with freezers and refrigerators. Unless you make other arrangements with us, we can only pick up and provide the rebate on those three items. You can make special arrangements directly with ESI, and pay them to have other appliances picked up at the same time as a qualifying pickup. (The homeowner’s cost for additional appliances is $30 each, paid to ESI, not the electric cooperative.)
Within one business day of your contact with Calhoun County REC, ESI will contact you to confirm the request and provide an estimated collection time—within a three-week period.
The appliance must be located “curbside” for collection, meaning it has to be outside the house or inside a garage or shed. ESI will not enter your home to remove the old appliance.
ESI provides safety tips for placing the appliances outside, Safety is the most important concern, so be sure to take the doors off old refrigerators and freezers. Then, turn them face down on the ground so that kids can’t get into them or tip them over. Calhoun County REC would rather you be safe than sorry. In addition, tipping these appliances face down keeps water from accumulating—and later in the year, keeps mosquitoes from breeding.
When ESI picks up the unit, it is checked to be sure it’s still operable. The pickup staff loads the unit, after that a $25 rebate check will be mailed to you. A maximum of three appliances per year per resident can be recycled in this program. If ESI discovers no appliance or if the appliance picked up does not qualify (for example, if it is not in working order), you may be charged $30 by Calhoun County REC for the unnecessary trip to your home.
What happens to your appliance after ESI picks it up? The appliances you send to ESI will not be reconditioned and resold, and all components are disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.
The process requires documentation throughout the entire cycle, beginning with paperwork at the pickup point. The pickup serial number is logged into a database once it’s delivered to his facility. Then, as the hazardous components are stripped out, the serial number also accompanies the tanks of Freon, the PCB, and the mercury from the switches as they move on to handling companies in other states. If you called ESI six months after a pickup about the specific appliance they picked up from your home, ESI could tell exactly when and where it went.
Some of the materials can be re-used. The metal can be converted into rolled steel for car parts and appliances. Freon is tested and some of it can be reconditioned and resold. Mercury can also be recycled. PCBs, on the other hand, are sent to a hazardous waste facility where they are incinerated.
Visit ENERGY STAR® appliance recycling page: bit.ly/recyclingisgood.
For more information on the Pull the Plug program, contact Calhoun County REC.
Kids - Check out the coloring pages below.
Get this old fridge to the recycling center (maze)!
Haul that old fridge away