The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and West Virginia have partnered in the Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) Program, a nation-wide campaign to educate and execute more environmentally conscious end-of-life scenarios for old, inefficient appliances that will enable the recycling of even more steel from end-of-life appliances.
The RAD program began in October of 2006 and Evelyn Swain, an Environmental Specialist, has working with RAD since its inception.
“We’re looking to change the practices within the industry,” says Swain. “We’re looking to make sure every part of the appliance is handled in the best possible way.”
With the help of RAD resources, consumers are increasingly choosing the best method of recycling the old and investing in new EnergyStar™ rated replacements made from recycled and recyclable materials like steel.
Steel continues to be North America’s most recycled material with a steady recycling rate of around 90 percent for appliances. In 2008, RAD contributed to that figure with over half a million appliances being efficiently renewed through RAD programming
The RAD program relies on their partners, such as municipalities, universities, utility companies and major retailers Sears and Best Buy, to accept the old appliances and offer vouchers or rebates on bills or new purchases. Utility companies are looking to get old, inefficient appliances off the grid and retailers want to be your best option for the newest, most environmentally conscious, appliances.
“We ask our partners information down into nitty-gritty of each individual waste stream and what durable components have you recycled,” explained Swain. “We calculate what that means for the environment in terms of greenhouse gas avoidance and ferrous metals recycled.”
RAD officials estimate that over 22,000 tons of ferrous metal were recycled in 2008 through program partners. The process of recycling just one ton of steel conserves 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone. In addition to the natural resources, each ton of steel recycled also conserves about 4697 Kwh/ton of electricity.
“Looking from 2007 to 2008 and 2009, [our recycled units] are significantly increasing every year and we’re excited to stay on this track. Getting states and retailers to join the program who can handle large volume of units is moving us towards our goal which is just to properly dispose as many units as we can.”
The annual greenhouse gas reductions of RAD’s program are estimated to be the same as if 229,000 passenger cars were taken off the road for that same year. The steel industry has also reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 45% since 1975. The reduction of these greenhouse gasses will protect our valuable ozone layer.
Besides energy conservation and reducing greenhouse gases, the physical landfill space required to store poorly handled appliances is an important message as well.
“These appliances are some of the biggest in the household,” says Swain. “One of the major benefits why retailers are joining forces with RAD is green messaging. Consumers are expecting more that products at ‘end of life’ are being recycled properly and not ending up in a landfill.”
With West Virginia now on board, there are several other states, local governments and retailers exploring a partnership with RAD. The more partners and forces working together the more benefits the program will create.
“Our RAD partners can’t accomplish our goals without the support of steel recycling and other end of life industries,” Swain concluded. “It’s really important for the program to have that support and backing.”
For all that they’ve done and the increasing amount they will continue to do, steel recycling supports RAD’s accomplishments.
More information on EPA’s RAD Program: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/partnerships/rad/.
More about the West Virginia Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program: http://www.dep.wv.gov/wveearp.
Nationally, consumers can find where to recycle their appliances through the Steel Recycling Locator at http://www.recycle-steel.org.