Chilling questions

Is it greener to hang on to my old fridge?

Definitely not. Fridges and freezers have a low ’embodied energy’. This means that about nine times as much energy is used running the appliance as is spent making it in the first place. So it makes ecological sense to take advantage of the huge improvements in energy efficiency and replace old fridges with new high-performance ones.

What about the Greenhouse Gases?

Old fridges use CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) which are highly damaging to the ozone layer and were banned in the mid 1990s. HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbons) replaced them but had a high global warming potential if released into the atmosphere. These again were phased out and since 2000 almost all chilling appliances use HCs (Hydrocarbons) which are far less damaging to the environment.


Refrigerant gases are only damaging if they are released to the atmosphere. If you buy a new appliance you will normally be given the opportunity to get your old one taken away — where it will be recycled in controlled conditions. Alternatively most Local Authority recycling sites will accept appliances, which will be treated in the same way. Around 80% of the material in a modern unit can be recycled.