A new initiative will see potent greenhouse gases safely removed from thousands of discarded fridges, freezers, heat pumps and other appliances in Auckland.

The Trust for the Destruction of Synthetic Refrigerants recently launched a pilot scheme, in partnership with social enterprise Localised, which will see the refrigerant gases in appliances like fridges, freezers and heat pumps collected and properly disposed of.

The Trust’s Chief Executive Janine Brinsdon says the pilot will focus on appliances collected through Auckland Council’s inorganic collection as well as those taken to nine community recycling centres around Auckland managed by Localised and the Zero Waste Network.

Matthew Luxon

Localised Business Development Director Matthew Luxon with some of the appliances which have already been degassed.

The pilot is expected to degas over 3,000 appliances over a year.

“Refrigerant gases have long been known as one of the leading contributors to climate change worldwide as they are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Even old or broken appliances pose a risk if they are not properly degassed and those gases safely disposed of,” Janine says.

The pilot also aimed to draw attention to the fact that only properly trained and certified technicians should work on appliances which use refrigerant gases. “It might be tempting for people to try and do DIY work on these appliances, but the risks are too great,” she says.

The Trust uses only trained and certified contractors when degassing and disposing of refrigerant gases.

Localised Business Development Director Matthew Luxon says they have been very eager to responsibly deal with the refrigerants in the appliances they receive at their community recycling centres and zero waste hubs.

“Working with the Trust to trial a recovery programme for our Auckland network is exciting. The members of our network have often struggled with purchasing the equipment needed and retaining trained staff. This programme addresses all these issues and we’re eager to see how it goes," he says.

Auckland Council General Manager Waste Solutions Parul Sood says the project is a great example of industry, local government and the community sector working together to implement product stewardship and solve a difficult problem.

“If they are handled incorrectly old fridges, freezers and heat pumps can leak gases into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. So, making sure the appliances we collect in our inorganic collection and which residents drop off at Community Recycling Centres are ‘degassed’ correctly is a no-brainer,” she says.

Results from the trial will help the Trust develop effective ways to roll out the service in more regions.

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