Thursday, October 3, 2013

Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers Encouraging Early Replacement Initiative

Recycling has always been about conserving the old to create the new. The longer a product, such as an aging appliance, is utilized past its peak performance life, the more energy is wasted. In fact, if just half of the 15-plus year old refrigerators currently on the grid were recycled, it would save as much energy as the entire ENERGY STAR refrigerator program has saved in 12 years.

With that big of an impact possible, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) will be introducing a new program to locate these older, inefficient appliances. Once they’re found and consumers purchase new, energy efficient refrigerator models there will be a dramatic increase in energy efficiency across the US and in Canada.

“Each year, an estimated 90% of disposed appliances are recycled. This is a testament to the recycling infrastructure that is already in place and the value of the steel scrap from these products. However, there are millions of appliances that are well beyond their efficient, useful life but are still being used by families,” says Gregory L. Crawford, Executive Director of the Steel Recycling Institute. “Early Replacement Programs are important to educate appliance owners on the money savings benefits, through lowering their household energy usage, by responsibly replacing their aging refrigerators.”
AHAM data shows that 41% of appliance owners decided to keep their older refrigerator operating even after purchasing a new model. While this may create additional frozen storage in the short term, the financial hit will continue. If a family replaced their 15-year old refrigerator in their basement or garage with today’s ENERGY STAR model a consumer will cut the product’s energy use in half and save an estimated $55 per year. Also, the total energy savings will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to decreased demand for electricity.

It is estimated there are 860 million major appliances installed in the US alone. Almost 40% of refrigerators included in that number don’t even meet the 2001 federal energy standard so when new, stricter, standards go into effect September 2014, it will only widen the gap between older, discontinued, models and new, ENERGY STAR, efficient models. In fact, the energy savings from all appliances shipped last year versus 25 years ago is enough to power Washington, DC for 60 years.
In addition to the energy and financial savings, a successful Early Replacement program will improve local economies by driving consumer spending on new appliances and collateral purchases. A 2010 national appliance rebate program, Cash for Appliances, was very successful with similar goals.

“Offering short term incentives, such as rebates, can be exactly what a family needs to make the decision to upgrade their appliances,” says Crawford. “The long term benefits will be a reminder of their right decision for years to come.”
Early Replacement continues to be a top initiative for the industry, and with AHAM, the Department of Energy, the EPA, utility companies, and retailers partnering to drive this program the results will be seen quickly and overwhelmingly.

For more information, please visit or

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

NERC Guest Blog - CAN IT! Reducing Food Waste with Steel Food Containers

Thank you to the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) for allowing us to guest blog for them and discuss the important issue of food waste reduction.

Here is an excerpt:
When people buy a product, they expect to be able to utilize that product to its fullest value and capacity. Anything less would be, to put it simply, wasted. Purchasing food is often a juggling act of buying enough nutritious options in the short term to feed your family but not so much that it begins to spoil. Food packaged in steel cans continues to be an American favorite, with over 100 million steel food cans used a day, and one of the primary reasons is their long shelf life. The canning process locks in nutrients at their peak of freshness, and canned foods are ready to eat when you are.
To read the full post, please visit NERC's Blog

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Looking for Ohio’s Oldest Refrigerator and Finding Environmental Success

What do recycling steel and trade-in programs for old appliances have in common? Both are aimed at conserving valuable energy and natural resources. The recycling of appliances provides steel scrap, which conserves energy and valuable natural resources. Trade in programs, like Duke Energy's appliance recycling program, remove older, energy guzzling refrigerators and freezers that are in working condition off the energy grid for recycling.

Duke Energy is participating in Ohio’s Oldest Refrigerator Contest, looking for the most ancient freezer or refrigerator for a lucky customer to receive upwards of $1,250. While this contest is only available for Ohio residents, it is just one component of Duke Energy's overall appliance recycling efforts.

Duke Energy works with JACO Environmental and Appliance Recycling Centers of America to administer their appliance recycling program. These are two of the largest appliance recycling programs in the country.

The appliance recycling program intends to remove the inefficient, energy-intensive equipment of the past and welcome the proficient, EnergyStar® approved new technology of today. Programs like this offer incentive to take the step of recycling these older appliances that often linger on in homes.

“A household may not recycle older appliances for many reasons. Some are not aware of the many benefits of appliance recycling. Others may want to recycle older appliances but are not sure where to start and what resources are available to help,” says John Langston, Program Manager for Duke Energy’s appliance recycling program. “We are committed to generating a greater awareness on the benefits of appliance recycling in general.”

The average steel weight of a refrigerator is 100 pounds, while smaller appliances have varying steel weights, about 90% of all appliances are recycled annually.  With over 50 million appliances recycled in 2011, they are a valuable source of steel scrap, contributing to why steel remains North America’s #1 most recycled material.

The steel industry relies on steel scrap to conserve energy and natural resources in the manufacturing of new products. Every ton of steel that is recycled conserves 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone. Additionally, every bulky refrigerator not recycled unnecessarily contributes to the nation’s shrinking landfill space.

Hazardous materials are also safely removed preventing possible contamination.

In Ohio, each contending household which doesn’t ultimately win the contest will still benefit however, as will any other customers in Duke Energy's service areas where appliance recycling is offered:

“Older refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 1990 can use three times more energy than newer, high-efficiency appliances. Unplugging and properly disposing of them can save up to $150 annually on a customer’s energy bill,” says Langston.

With more than 27,000 refrigerators and freezers recycled by Duke Energy through the end of last year, the impact can also be seen at higher levels.

“At Duke Energy, we like to say that the most efficient, environmentally friendly power plant is the one we don’t have to build. Power plants can be costly investments, so helping customers use less energy creates energy savings which helps us continue to meet customers’ energy needs while delaying new power plants,” explains Langston. “The energy saved can also help reduce the need for Duke Energy to turn on older, less efficient plants, which is good for the environment.”

Duke Energy has offered appliance recycling for several years including a year-round incentive of up to $50, depending upon the customer's service area. They also offer energy efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, distributing nearly 37 million CFLs since 2010. They estimate the energy savings to power more than 97,000 residential homes and offset the carbon output of 205,000 passenger cars.

“We are committed to operating in a way that is good for people, the planet and profits,” concluded Langston.

The families that participate in Duke Energy’s appliance recycling program can feel proud that they are contributing to that same commitment.


Duke Energy is the largest electric power holding company in the United States, supplying and delivering energy to approximately 7.2 million U.S. customers. They approximate 57,700 megawatts of electric generating capacity in the Carolinas, the Midwest and Florida – and natural gas distribution services in Ohio and Kentucky. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a Fortune 250 company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information on Duke Energy and their appliance recycling contest can be found here.

To find appliance, and other steel product, recycling options in your area visit the Steel Recycling Locator.

Friday, February 22, 2013

GM Turns Steel Scrap Into Cash

Metal scraps ready for recycling
(Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for GM)
An excellent article by Forbes' Joann Muller highlights General Motors (GM) ability to turn their manufacturing "waste", such as steel scrap, into a $1 billion per year financial return to offset costs.
General Motors sees those leftover steel cutouts, roughly four feet square, as a marketable commodity. It sells them directly to a local steel fabricator, Blue Star Steel, which uses them to stamp out small brackets for heating and air conditioning equipment for other industries, skipping the foundry altogether. Everyone benefits: GM maximizes the value of that leftover material; Blue Star Steel saves money buying scrap steel, and the environment is spared additional greenhouse gas emissions from a foundry. 

Some of the additional highlights of GM's accomplishments include diverting 2.5 million metric tons of waste from landfills and highlighting their "landfill-free" facilities worldwide, totaling 104 which includes 84 manufacturing sites that reuse or recycle 97 percent of their waste and convert the remainder into energy.

John Bradburn, GM's manager of waste-reduction efforts also discusses why sustainability goes beyond just environmental aspects by allowing the financial aspects to be a return on investment to continue growing those efforts.

For more information on GM's recycling efforts, click here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Penn State Harrisburg to commemorate building's LEED certification

Photo from Penn State Live

Penn State - Harrisburg will hold a dedication ceremony on February 6th for their new four-story, $10 million dollar LEED-certified residence hall.

Building 10,000, as it is called, is the only LEED-certified residence hall of all the 19 campuses to make up the Penn State Commonwealth Campus System.

Building 10,000 began housing students in 2010 but was just awarded a silver level certification for its use of recycled materials, such as steel, and other energy-efficient features.

The four story building can house 100 students and was designed by SMP Architects, which has created buildings on the Penn State Brandywine and Penn State Berks campuses as well.

“It's a building that Penn State can be proud of,” Penn State Harrisburg Director of Housing and Food Services Craig Cook said.

For more information on Building 10,000 and its other sustainable, green features, visit Penn State Live.