You probably know how to recycle small items—that aluminum can or glass bottle, for instance. Here in Portland, consumers and businesses can also easily recycle compostable scraps through the city’s recycling program. But what about bigger items, like AC units? This blog outlines the safest ways to recycle generators and AC units during demolition and asset recovery. We will also explore how Elder´s recycling operations can offset demolition costs. Finally, we briefly discuss what happens when these large units are recycled.
Recycling the Big Stuff
Large equipment is often known in the demolition and asset recovery industry as “critical facilities operation equipment” and can include:
- Generators and large HVAC equipment
- Power Supply Equipment such as Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) units
- Cooling towers
- Computer equipment, wires, and server/data room equipment
Critical facilities operation equipment is often challenging to recycle, but some companies such as Elder specialize in the responsible removal and extraction of these materials to recycling sites.
Safe and Responsible Disposal
Certain environmental and safety concerns arise when recycling large equipment. Elder is committed to safe and responsible recycling.
The disposal of appliances is a particular concern because refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 1995 typically contain chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) or hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerant. Many older refrigeration units also contain harmful insulation foam containing CFC and HCFC. Both CFC and HCFC are ozone-depleting substances, and as such are regulated by the EPA.
Beyond refrigerants and foam, HVAC and refrigeration/freezer units may contain other hazardous materials, such as used oil, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), and mercury. These are only a handful of the toxic substances that demolition contractors must keep in mind when disposing of large equipment.
So, what happens to our old appliances? They are Resold, Recycled, or sent to the Landfill. As a consumer, your first step is to check if there is a bounty collection program in your area. Your city may have a program to collect appliances, and they may even and offer a monetary bounty for certain appliances. Check on the state and municipal recycling programs as well.
During the recycling process, hazardous materials are removed, and metal and other useful parts are scrapped. However, since there are often no legal requirements for insulation foam recovery, blowing agents are often released into the atmosphere and end up contributing to ozone depletion and climate change. This is one area where responsible recyclers (like Elder) are doing more than the legal minimum, to help protect the environment.
In landfill operations, the hazardous materials and valuable metal are often removed, but it is also common to see appliances disposed of intact, with no shredding or removal of components. That means that hazardous substances may be leaching out of the appliances and into nearby soil.
Elder Demolition Investment and Asset Recovery Services
Talk to us about our asset recovery program. Our Demolition Investment and Asset Recovery service helps you maximize the value of your unused or end-of-life assets through a program that promotes reuse, reclamation, and resale. Oftentimes, the facilities we work with contain a wealth of materials in the form of equipment, machinery, metals and more. Our Demolition Asset Recovery contractors are here to talk to you about any potential assets or investments that can be recovered from your facility or structure.