Energy Adviser: Recycling choices abound

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Sometimes, recycling an old freezer isn’t easy.

“Once we went to pick up a chest freezer, only to find it was in a basement and the owner had built a bedroom around it,” said Bob Crutchfield, owner of CFC Recycling Inc. “So we had to remove all hazardous materials right there.”

Crutchfield’s employees pick up refrigerators and freezers for Clark Public Utilities as part of the utility’s refrigerator and freezer recycling program.

In this case, once the hazardous materials were removed, the homeowner cut the freezer box apart and CFC picked up the remains a few days later.

Usually, it’s much simpler than that. For customers replacing an old fridge or freezer, the utility offers a $25 rebate at the retailer for qualifying energy-efficient models. And any time you are done with an old one, you can also get a $30 credit on your utility bill when you call the utility and arrange to have your old refrigerator or freezer picked up for recycling, whether you’ve purchased a new one or not.

CFC Recycling picks up a couple thousand units each year. Until last year, customers placed their fridges and freezers curbside. However, other scrapping companies mistakenly retrieved them and customers lost their deduction. Now both Crutchfield and the utility advise putting the old units next to the house. “To keep kids safe, homeowners should place the doors of an old freezer against the house so the appliance can’t be opened,” Crutchfield said.

While refrigerators and freezers from the last century may run for some years, they require three times the energy new models use. The cost of that wasted energy can add up. In addition, refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 1995 typically contain chlorofluorocarbon refrigerant. Fluorocarbon released into the environment depletes the Earth’s ozone layer. Old fridges and freezers also contain other pollutants, including oil, PCBs and mercury. Proper decommissioning and recycling of old appliances keeps noxious pollutants from seeping into our environment, and reduces wasted energy, which is why Clark Public Utilities offers an incentive and provides the free service.

All the units picked up by CFC Recycling are totally recycled, said Crutchfield. His company drains any toxic oils, removes reusable metals and then sends the rest to a scrap metal recycler. To schedule a pickup and arrange for the $30 credit on your power bill, call 360-992-3000.

CFLs

In 2013, a new law went into effect in Washington requiring CFL manufacturers to keep these bulbs out of landfills because of the small amount mercury in them. Folks in Clark County can bring up to six burned-out CFL bulbs to any Clark Public Utilities location and exchange them for new ones.

Vancouver’s Central Transfer and Recovery Center, West Van Materials Recovery Center and Washougal Transfer Station, as well as Home Depot, also recycle CFLs.

Hazardous materials

Anyone wanting to recycle other household materials can check the Clark County website (www.clark.wa.gov/recycle/recyclinga-z.html) to find an alphabetical listing of materials that can be recycled and where to turn them in. The website also lists a calendar of upcoming recycling events (www.clark.wa.gov/recycle/A-Z/Resources/Mobile-HHW.html) for disposing unused paint, foam blocks and other hazardous household materials.

Battle Ground, Camas, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal and Yacolt are hosting a number of upcoming Recycling Day Events this year. Each event provides area residents an opportunity to handle special wastes through reuse, recycling or safe disposal. Residents can safely dispose of household hazardous waste, block foam, unwanted electronics, tires, refrigerators and freezers, air conditioners as well as woody yard debris and scrap lumber all for a donation of non-perishable food items for local food banks. Check for the latest information on the Clark Green Neighbors website (www.ClarkGreenNeighbors.org/recyclingday).

“Recycling is great, but it’s really the last step in the process of waste reduction,” said DuWayne Dunham, energy services supervisor for the utility. “Getting into the mindset of reduce, reuse, then recycle helps diminish our waste stream from the top down.”


Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to ecod@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.