Over the past 20 years RUAG has recycled two million refrigeration appliances at its site in Altdorf, bringing valuable materials back into circulation. This means that RUAG Environment has professionally disposed of almost half of all worn-out refrigerators in Switzerland. RUAG Altdorf is particularly proud of the high recycling rate: "We achieve 90 percent, although we are only required to recycle 75 percent", comments Peter Heilig, Head of RUAG Environment in Altdorf. "And the reuse rate is even 98 percent", he adds.
Over the past few years, recycling CFCs from worn-out refrigeration appliances is estimated to have saved 4.3 million tonnes of CO2. This is equivalent to a normal mid-range car driving round the world a million times. CFCs are found in both the cooling systems in the refrigerators and the insulation material used. The CFCs are separated from the insulation material by heating it to 120 degrees. These days, however, only around 40 percent of the refrigeration appliances delivered still contain CFCs. Refrigerators also contain valuable reusable materials including copper wire, aluminium, plastics (polystyrene) and compressors.
The facility started recycling by hand more than two decades ago, which took a lot of energy and power. RUAG Environment now uses one of the most modern systems in Europe. Today, up to 50 refrigerators are taken apart mechanically per hour. There is still a lot of manual work involved when the appliances are delivered. All refrigerators are unloaded by hand to avoid liquids escaping uncontrollably from the cooling system. An average refrigerator weighs 45 kg.
RUAG Environment AG has been the experienced, reliable market leader in Switzerland for complete, environmentally friendly, sustainable and resource-conserving disposal and recycling solutions since 1992. The recovery of materials from refrigeration appliances is a key part of RUAG Environment's activities. Its range of services includes correct, professional disposal of electrical and electronic goods, disposal of toxic substances and special waste, advice on certification, individual logistics solutions and innovative environmental services.