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EPA and Utilities Launch Initiative to Reduce Ozone Depleting Substances and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Release Date: 10/31/2006
Contact Information: John Millett, (202) 564-7842 Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

(10/27/06 -- LONG BEACH) EPA and utility companies (Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric, PacifiCorp, Nevada Power/Sierra Pacific Power, Snohomish Public Utility District, Fort Collins Utilities, and Sacramento Municipal Utility District) have launched a new voluntary program that promotes environmentally responsible disposal of household refrigerators and freezers. Once implemented, the Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) Program will significantly reduce emissions that deplete the ozone layer and contribute to climate change.

    "Promoting the responsible use of products that emit greenhouse gases makes business sense and protects the environment," said Bill Wehrum, acting assistant administrator for Air and Radiation. "We have the ability to make a difference by disposing of everyday household appliances properly."

    “The utilities being recognized here today are leaders in their industry with the proper disposal of harmful chemicals,” said Wayne Nastri, the administrator of the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “Responsible appliance disposal means that precious energy and natural resources are saved and human health is protected because toxic substances such as PCBs and mercury are contained.”

    Roughly 13 million refrigerators and freezers are disposed of each year in the U.S., and about 15%-20% (~23 million) of U.S. households have a secondary unit stored in their basements or garages. These are often older, less efficient models that may consume three to four times more energy than newer units. Several utility sponsored programs encourage the removal of inefficient refrigerators and freezers, typically by offering appliance owners a financial incentive for the collection of their old units, and/or by providing rebates toward the purchase of new ENERGY STARŪ qualified units. Because of reduced energy demand, these appliance rebate programs are considered to be highly cost-effective.

    Refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 1995 contain chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which are potent ozone-depleting substances. The RAD program is designed to encourage the retirement and proper disposal of these older units while ensuring that CFCs both in the insulation foam within the cabinet walls, and in the refrigerant, are captured and destroyed or recycled. Because CFCs are also potent greenhouse gases, their recovery and destruction will also reduce U.S. emissions that contribute to climate change.

    RAD program partners are also committing to best practices for recovery and disposal of hazardous substances contained in the appliances such as mercury, PCBs, and used oil. Program partners will provide EPA with data on the quantity of CFCs recovered and destroyed or recycled along with other environmental information.

    In addition to RAD program partners, EPA is working collaboratively with many key sectors to quantify and reduce emissions, and to promote efficient technologies that are safer for the ozone layer and Earth’s climate in the United States and globally.

    More information on EPA’s phaseout of ozone-depleting substances is available at