About White Goods
White Goods refers to major appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, air conditioners, and washing machines. Refrigerators and freezers contain refrigerants, oils, and other compounds that, by federal law, must be removed and recovered. Some recycling programs also capture the foam insulation inside the refrigerator doors for added environmental benefits. The steel, other metals, and selected parts can then be recycled. The average refrigerator aged 10 years or older contains more than 120 pounds of recyclable steel!
Five Ways to Recycle White Goods
1. Recycle through an Appliance Retailer
Look for retailers that partner with EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) Program. RAD is a voluntary partnership program to help protect the ozone layer and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by recovering ozone-depleting chemicals from old refrigerators, freezers, window air conditioners, and dehumidifiers. Using best practices, RAD partners ensure that: refrigerant is recovered and reclaimed or destroyed; foam is recovered and destroyed, or the blowing agent is recovered and reclaimed; metals, plastic, and glass are recycled; and PCBs, mercury, and used oil are recovered and properly disposed.
Many appliance retailers will pick up and recycle your old refridgerator or freezer when you purchase a new one. Ask your retailer for assurance that the old unit will be properly recycled and not re-sold as an inefficient, second-hand unit. Some retailers or manufacturers also offer cash rebates when you buy a new refridgerator.
Appliances left curbside might be picked up by peddlers who may improperly vent refrigerant or otherwise dispose of the appliance in an unsafe manner.
2. Check with Your State Energy Office or Local Electric Utility
Local utilities and energy-efficiency organizations support a growing number of refrigerator and freezer recycling programs. Some programs offer cash to recycle your old refridgerator; others offer utility bill credits. ComEd
3. Ask about Municipal Pick-Up of Appliances
Your community’s waste management service provider may offer heavy trash pick-up and recycling programs for appliances as part of your Village or City contract. Check out details at your respective municipal’s website or call for details.
4. Drop-off Programs
White goods can be dropped off at SWANCC’s Transfer Station at 3 Providence Way in Des Plaines during business hours for a fee of $25 per item or taken to area recyclers. For details, visit SWANCC’s Reuse and Recycling Directory.
5. Local Scrap Metal Recyclers
Thousands of local scrap metal recyclers can recycle old refridgerators and freezers. Ask your scrap metal recycler for assurance that your old unit will be properly recycled. Visit SWANCC’s Reuse and Recycling Directory for locations.
Small Household Appliances
Products such as toasters, blenders, coffee makers, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, lamps, etc. can be thrown away in the garbage if they cannot be donated for reuse or recycled through other programs. Additionally, any small item that contains a high percentage of metal, such as a microwave, can be left out on the curb or alley next to the garbage cart for a “scrapper” to pick up and take to a metal recycler. Be mindful of local ordinances.
Be sure to visit SWANCC’s Recycling FAQs for information about managing other household materials.