City offers refrigerator pick-up

It may be a small step for a sustainable world, but the city of Ashland has worked out a deal for the pick-up and recycling of your old refrigerators and freezers.

The practice is already in place in the rest of Jackson County, through Pacific Power.

Jaco Environmental Co. in Snohomish County, Wash., will pick up old refrigerators and freezers and haul them to Portland, where they will be "remanufactured," with 95 percent of the material re-used or recycled, said Bob Nichols, business development director for the firm. To top it off, the company will give a $30 rebate to the fridge and freezer "donors."

The majority of old refrigerators, which many people keep in garages for additional food storage, use three to four times the energy of new energy-efficient models, according to Jaco publicity. Two older refrigerators can eat up 20 percent of household electricity, it adds.

A typical 20-year-old refrigerator uses 1,500 kilowatt-hours a year, while new ones use 400 to 500 kwh. The foam insulation and refrigerant, if not properly recycled, can release harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

To schedule a pick-up, customers may call 1-866-444-8907 of go to www.jacoinc.com. The system already is in place for customers of Pacific Power through the Energy Trust of Oregon. Ashland is a city-owned utility and has just joined the system, said Robbin Pearce, water conservation analyst with the city, who just engineered the arrangement.

"We're trying to support people in getting rid of the older, less energy-efficient ones and they don't know what to do with them," said Pearce. "You don't have to buy a new one to get this program." The program is good for all users, whether commercial, residential or multi-family. Units should be at least 10 cubic feet in size.

Jaco recycles or safely disposes of a range of toxic chemicals from refrigerators, including PCBs, chlorofluorocarbons and polyurethane foam — and, according to its publicity documents, recycles the glass, metal and plastic.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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