Refrigerators given cold shoulder : strategies to improve sustainable refrigerator management in Manitoba
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Refrigerators contain significant amounts of ozone-depleting substances (ODS), which must be recovered prior to disposal to prevent ozone depletion and climate change. Currently, municipal governments are burdened with appliance management - utilizing practices that encourage recovery of highly valuable resources but neglect recycling less valuable and safely disposing of hazardous components. More progressive strategies have emerged, however, incorporating product lifecycle analysis through end-of-life (EOL) manufacturer involvement and technologies that minimize pollution and increase component recovery. This thesis examined EOL refrigerator management in Manitoba to recommend best practices and sustainable frameworks for management. Objectives included: 1) identifing critical issues in EOL refrigerator management and current waste management policy; 2) identifying gaps in Manitoba's refrigerator management policies, practice and procedure; 3) determining best management frameworks for sustainable management; and 4) recommending feasible management structures for implementation in Manitoba. To achieve these objectives, a number of activities were conducted including a literature review, site tours (Manitoba, UK), consultations with Manitoba Stakeholders, roundtable discussions and distribution of a refrigerator management survey and electronic questionnaires. Manitoba's management system is unsustainable. The largest concern is that most of the ODS in refrigerators is allowed to be released, as regulations requiring its capture are limited to the cooling circuit only and not CFCs in the insulating foam. The insulating foam typically contains two-thirds of the CFCs in refrigerators. Municipalities in Manitoba do not consider safe disposal of these foams, which results in the release of CFCs during the recyling process. Another unsustainable factor is that plastics and other components are not recycled but sent to landfill. Lack of waste management legislation for refrigerators has created over 200 individual municipal management strategies - each with their own criteria for disposal. Residents and municipalities lack proper education and pay as you throw disposal fees has resulted in improper disposals. Appliance resale of old inefficient refrigerators, which are twice the energy consumers of Energy Star models, result in large energy bills to the consumer of several hundred dollars per year. Operating one 20 year-old refrigerator has the carbon dioxide equivalent of running two automobiles for one year. A study tour of refrigerator recycling facilities in the UK and a survey of North American appliance recycling programs provided examples of best management practices (BMPs) form regulatory and voluntary perspectives. Regulations on refrigerator disposal were found to be most effective, as the scope encompasses all units for recycling; targets and standards can be set; most advanced treatment technologies can be utilized; and producers can help with waste management and redesign of sustainable products. To be proactive, refrigerators with high ozone depleting or global warming potential should be discouraged from use and sale and replaced by hydrocarbon technolgy, possibly through eco-rebate incentives. The most effective strategy for Manitoba would be to regulate EOL management through extended producer responsibility (EPR), replacing municipal management approaches with a single strategy, managed and financed by industry producers. Eventually, Manitoba's product stewardship framework must begin to include the principles of EPR for greater...
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