It wouldn’t be out of place at a monster truck rally. 40 feet tall and capable of eating up and breaking down 150,000 used refrigerators annually, the new UNTHA Recycling Technology (URT) system at the Appliance Recycling Centers of America’s (ARCA’s) facility in Philadelphia is an engineering marvel. At an event there this morning, GE and ARCA announced that the URT system is ready to go to work on its first old fridge (as are the facility’s 50 new employees, whose new green jobs were supported by ARCA’s $10 million investment in URT and other new capital equipment).
The URT system – a 40-foot tall engineering marvel that helps reduce refrigerator landfill waste by 85 percent by weight.
There will be plenty of those refrigerators: since February, GE and ARCA have doubled the number of states served, feeding 100,000 additional appliance units to the Philly facility from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Delaware, Rhode Island and Vermont. Consumers bring their used refrigerators to participating retailers, like The Home Depot, who then send them to ARCA. It’s all part of GE’s participation in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Responsible Appliance Disposal program.
The towering URT system’s performance is impressive. By recovering around 95 percent of the insulating foam in refrigerators, in addition to high-quality plastics, aluminum, copper and steel, URT reduces the typical landfall waste of a refrigerator by 85 percent. It also lowers the greenhouse gas and ozone depleting substance emissions recovered from insulating foam.
These achievements help ensure that the end of a GE appliance’s life is just as sustainable as its birth: In April, GE became the first full-line appliance manufacturer in the U.S. to adopt an emissions-reducing foaming agent to make its top-freezer refrigerators at its plant in Decatur, Alabama. From there and everywhere else GE appliances are manufactured, they live energy-efficient lives, recognized with the GE’s winning of a sixth straight Energy Star “Sustained Excellence” award. Now, with URT operational, GE refrigerators will be reborn as completely new products. For example, steel recovered by URT will be sold to a supplier for processing and then repurchased as steel deck plate by GE Transportation for use in building locomotives.