Replacing That Old Refrigerator: A Bigger Decision than You Think

Lead Author: Dr. Jim Bowyer

Publish date: 02.01.2019

Dovetail Partners Consuming Responsibly Report No. 5 
 

Executive Summary

It is perhaps intuitive that keeping products in service for as long as possible before discarding represents environmental best practice. However, in the case of refrigerators, long life can translate to greater environmental impacts. The apparent contradiction is due to rapid increases in refrigerator energy efficiency which quickly put older units at considerable disadvantage to newer models, even after accounting for energy consumption and environmental impacts linked to production of new units and recycling/disposal of old units. In general if a refrigerator is older than 10-11 years, it is better from an environmental perspective to recycle and replace it with a new unit.