Incorrect recycling of refrigerators endangers European climate protection

Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) and ECOS urge EU Member States to lay down European quality standards EN 50625-2-3 and TS 50625-3-4 in national waste legislation
Dieter Schütz,

Outdated treatment standards and incorrect practices in recycling old cooling appliances endanger European climate protection goals. This is the conclusion of the Briefing Paper released today by Environmental Action Germany (Deutsche Umwelthilfe – DUH) and the European Environmental Citizens’ Organisation for Standardisation (ECOS), a pan-European environmental NGO specialised in standardisation, in time for the climate protection summit in Marrakesh

In Europe, around 19 million cooling appliances are discarded every year. About half of these appliances still contain coolants and propellants like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). If CFCs are released into the environment, they significantly contribute towards destroying the ozone layer and accelerating global warming. According to calculations by DUH and ECOS, the cooling appliances disposed of every year in Europe have a greenhouse potential of 26.6 million tonnes of CO2. This is why ECOS and DUH call on EU Member States to lay down the quality standards EN 50574 and TS 50574-2 or the upcoming quality standards EN 50625-2-3 and TS 50625-3-4 in their national waste legislation.

Compliance with these standards would ensure a safe and environmentally sound treatment of cooling appliances – specifically in Germany, the UK and Poland, where the treatment of cooling appliances is particularly deficient. “To achieve the climate protection goals agreed in Paris last year, greenhouse gas emissions must be lowered to practically zero. Improper treatment of cooling appliances in some EU states, including Germany, is causing the release of millions of tonnes of CO2 equivalents into the atmosphere. Outdated disposal regulations and the lack of implementation of environmental regulations undermines Europe’s climate protection efforts,” criticises DUH General Manager Jürgen Resch.

Resch points towards exemplary EU Member States like France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland, Austria, and Switzerland. These countries set benchmarks in the recycling of cooling appliances, because they have laid down the stringent European quality standards EN 50574 and TS 50574-2 in legislation or have made them binding specifications via their national take-back Page 2 – ECOS-DUH Press release from 4 November 2016 systems. All other countries should follow and make compliance with these quality standards mandatory. The CFCs contained in the coolant and the insulation of a fridge have a greenhouse potential of 2.8 tonnes of CO2. This equals the CO2 emissions of a medium-sized vehicle over a single year with a travel distance of 15,000 kilometres. By referencing high treatment standards for the recycling of cooling appliances in legislation, large amounts of CO2 could be saved in a simple way and without expensive funding programmes.


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