In Michigan, the states largest power company wants your energy-gulping, landfill-clogging refrigerators and it’s willing to pay $50 for them and haul them away for free. The programs is a small part of the utility company’s plan to meet its state-mandated goal of reducing energy consumption 5.5 percent by 2012. DTE Energy, so far, has collected more than 1,000 old refrigerators and freezers, and is partnering with Washington-based JACO Environmentalto recycle them for parts used in making computers, cell phones and steel rebar.
Similar programs can be found in New Jersey and Vermont where statewide programs offers residents a $30 rebate and free appliance pick-up. If your state does not have similar plans in place check with your local utility provider to see if they offer an appliance recycling rebate.
Utilities companies estimate that homeowners can save up to $150 a year on their electricity bill by replacing their old refrigerator or freezer with a new Energy-star rated model. Old refrigerators, made prior to 1990, use three times as much electricity as new ones and emit ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
According to Sam Sirkin, the program development manager of Jaco Environmental, “Avoiding the release of the C.F.C.’s in fridges captures five tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per fridge, and just removing the old refrigerator or freezer from the grid saves another two to five tons of carbon dioxide due to energy savings.”
An Appliance recycling plan is far superior to the hijacked CARS program because the car rebates, which run as high as $4,500 per purchase, ultimately cost taxpayers around $160 per ton of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere. An appliance recycling rebate between $25 and $50 removes about five tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. According to Elana Schor , that works out to a cost of $10 per ton for the richest refrigerator rebate program — more than 10 times cheaper than “cash for clunkers.”