Cradle to Cradle-Refrigerator

By: Lindsay Harley

How your product is made?

The exterior cabinet and door, the inner cabinet or liner, the insulation inserted between the two, the cooling system, the refrigerant, and the fixtures. The cabinet and door are made of aluminum or steel sheet metal that is sometimes prepainted. The metal is generally purchased in a coil that is either fed directly into the manufacturing process or cut to size and fed sheet by sheet. The inner cabinet is made of sheet metal, like the outer cabinet, or of plastic. The insulation that fills the gap between the inner and outer cabinets consists of fiberglass or polyfoam. The components of the cooling system which includes a compressor, condenser, coils, fins are made of aluminum, copper, or an alloy. The tubing is usually copper, its ability to bend without breaking. Freon remains the most commonly used refrigerant, and almost all of the large interior fixtures (door and cabinet liners) are made from vacuum-formed plastic; smaller fixtures (butter compartments, egg trays, salad crispers) are purchased as small plastic blanks or in pre-formed pieces.

How your product is used and for how long?

It is used to keep food cold to last longer so it does not spoil spoil as fast. Average lifespan is about 8-12 years. Most of the time, you will have to replace certain parts before in order to keep it working at its best.

What happens to your product when it is no longer needed?

They go to a place called Jaco Environmental, a company that recycles 600,000 working (but energy-inefficient) refrigerators and 500,000 broken and unwanted refrigerators nationally every year at 30 facilities nationwide. The facility is 55,000 square feet, with rows of dated and dented models. A single refrigerator contains chemicals with the greenhouse gas equivalent of 5 tons of carbon dioxide — roughly the same emissions as a passenger car driven for 10,000 miles. Jaco has won two awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the last decade for reducing ozone depletion.

What is a way that your product can be reused or repurposed?

The average fridge weighs about 200 pounds, almost all of which can be recycled. About 125 pounds are steel, five pounds are aluminum and an additional three to five pounds are copper. All those metals are separated with the help of a motorized hack saw, ripped apart by hand, sent to metal scrap yards and shipped overseas.The enormous cardboard boxes and amounts of foam packaging used to protect the exteriors end up at Jaco as well. The cardboard is shipped overseas for recycling. The polystyrene is melted on site into a product 100 times as dense. It is sent to China, where it's often remade into photo frames and decking. The capacitors that keep the refrigerator motor running may contain PCBs, so they're removed and sent to a hazardous materials facility.


Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle on preserving Earth's biodiversity?

The more we can each reduce our demand for new resources, the less habitat conversion will be necessary to get those resources or the energy to make the products we demand, and the less waste goes into the landfill. Reduce use of pesticides and fertilizers in lawn care. These often run off of lawns into adjacent lakes and streams with adverse effects for the plants and animals living there. Also Composting both reduces the overall waste stream and thereby the need for landfill space, and it provides natural slow-release fertilizer for your flower or vegetable garden.
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