What Should I do with my Old Refrigerator or AC?

Old refrigerators

Substances in cooling appliances must be handled responsibly to curb impacts on the climate.

Our Cool It! campaign works to eliminate HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons), greenhouse gases with thousands of times more warming potential than CO2 that are used in our air conditioners and refrigerators. 

These gases are emitted into the atmosphere through leaks and improper disposal of appliances. Beyond HFCs, appliances have hazardous components that can pose threats to the environment and communities if leached out.

Fortunately, there are best practices to reclaim or destroy refrigerants at their end of life. 

Here’s how to get started:

Cool It in Your Home

When hiring an HVAC company for leak repairs or refrigerant removal, ask if it's certified under Section 608 from the Clean Air Act. If the process is being done correctly, your technician will be using a recovery machine and a reusable cylinder to capture the gas. If the technician is emptying the gas into a plastic jug or no container at all, it's not being recovered properly and is venting out into the air. If you suspect a company is venting out these gases instead of responsibly containing them, you can report it on the EPA’s tip line

If your cooling appliance is broken beyond repair, first check with your electric utility to see if they sponsor a turn-in program which would pay you for your old appliance.

Check EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal Program to find retailers and utility companies you can use for disposal. These partners send appliances to certified technicians to responsibly remove the substances. 

When buying a new fridge, look for HFC-free options with EIA's helpful guide of climate-friendly refrigerators.

If you’re a renter, you can encourage your landlord to follow these practices and ask your landlord if they have a schedule for monitoring leaks on your property. Repairing leaks cuts emissions and is cost effective.

And importantly, don't attempt to cut any refrigerant line or remove items like the compressor from your cooling system, as this will result in venting out the gases. 

Cooling Your Business

If you own a commercial space that uses cooling appliances, commit to monitoring leaks on a quarterly or annual basis. Develop a plan to make a quick repair if you detect a refrigerant leak, and make sure to contract with technicians who are Section 608 certified under the Clean Air Act.

Find more ways that businesses can improve refrigerant management practices on our Cool It Solutions page

Use your voice as a business-owner and submit a letter to the Trump Administration to ratify the Kigali Amendment. You would be joining many states, major industry refrigerant suppliers, and elected officials from both sides of the aisle in urging to ratify the Amendment.  

Tips for Your Car

For car owners, it may be tempting to go the DIY route to repair any problems with your air conditioning, but specific recovery equipment is required to prevent gases from venting out.

Make sure to have your car’s AC serviced by a technician certified under section 609 of the Clean Air Act to prevent these harmful emissions from entering the atmosphere.  

Companies Should Do Their Part

You're working to cut HFCs - tell companies to do their part. Supermarkets are a major source of HFCs and need to be held accountable for their refrigerant emissions – join Green America in urging Walmart, one of the world’s largest retailers, to cut HFCs!