What Can I Do with My Old Fridge?

Rusty old and used fridge

One of the more common questions we get asked at Junk Run is – “Can you take away my old fridge”? And/or “How much does it cost to remove my old fridge?
Back in the day, fridges were built to last (although they contained more environmentally toxic chemicals). They were sturdy and much smaller than the double door fridge freezers we have now. These days stainless steel fridges do well if they last 10 years. Many of the parts are made of plastic which snap and break. Replacements to repair damaged fridges are hard to source or can be expensive. Sadly, it is often cheaper and less hassle to simply buy a new fridge than to keep working with the one you have. Sometimes, the reason we need a new fridge is to go with a new kitchen or to fit the space we have in a new house. This means a perfectly good fridge is now redundant. None of this activity is helpful to our environment at all.

What is the Average Fridge Made From?

Fridges consist of the exterior cabinet and door, inner liner, insulation, cooling system and gases. The cabinet and door are usually made of aluminium, steel or stainless sheet metal. The inner cabinet is usually made of white plastic or thin white sheet metal in older models. The insulation that fills the gap between the inner and outer cabinets is often polystyrene. The cooling system is usually made of metals like aluminium, copper, or an alloy. The interior fittings (butter compartments, egg trays, vegetable storage trays) are usually always plastic.
There are also the gasses, the most common type of refrigerant before 1995 used to be chlorofluorocarbons, (CFC’s). After CFCs were found to be contributing to the hole in the ozone, there were phased out all over the world.
After 1995 fridges were manufactured with hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs), or Freon gases which are less harmful to the environment.
However, much of the harm they cause is after we as consumers have finished using them. Roughly 90% of refrigerant climate emissions occur at equipment’s end of life. If the chemicals are carefully extracted and stored, they can be purified for reuse or turned into other substances that do not cause global warming.

Keeping fridges out of landfill

One of the easiest ways to find a new use for your (good quality) second-hand fridge- is to sell it or give it away. Speak with your friends, co-workers, and family. Try local community groups, charities and students heading into flats. You could even post a message on your local community Facebook, or Neighbourly pages. Offer your free fridge in return for the new owner picking it up from your home on Facebook markets and Trade Me. If you are trying to sell your fridge, remember check measurements and post those on your advert, along with the suburb for pick up.
Older working fridges/freezers are useful for mechanics, building sites, or for holiday bachs. They can be ideal for beer and fishing requirements.
Many scrap metal dealers will accept fridges. You will need to be able to lift, carry and transport them there yourself. In Auckland there are appliance refurbishing businesses that may collect your fridge (for a small fee). They will repair them ready to on sell again.
Clark Wholesalers on Lincoln Road in Henderson is one such business. They can be reached on 09 8388241.
Some transfer stations will have a separate place to put old fridges. They can be degassed and recycled rather than tipped into landfill.

Waitakere Transfer Station on the Concourse off Lincoln Road will take old fridges for $10 an item.

Moving an old fridge safely

Fridges are also large and heavy to move, so it may not be practical to consider moving it yourself. You will require at least two people and a large vehicle or a trailer to move it safely. They take up a lot of space and are heavy to move. –Especially if you need to move them down a set of stairs or around a corner to get them into a vehicle. They also can damage floors when you drag them out- so take care to protect the floor.

Ideally, fridges should not be laid down flat in a vehicle when being transported. This can cause the oils, environmentally toxic gas and coolants to flood different parts of the inner workings, which can badly damage the unit when it’s started back up. Even new fridges can be damaged this way by rough transportation. Try to transport it standing upright with the doors shut.
If you have to lay your fridge down to move it, try to lay it on its front or side, but not on its back. Try to minimise this trip to be as short as possible. Once you have arrived, leave the fridge standing upright and unplugged for at least two hours before starting it back up again. This allows the oils, gas and coolants flow back into the right places.

Safe storage tips for old fridges

Fridges can pose a major safety hazard for young children. Always secure the door closed if you have little people who might find it a fun place to play in. The same goes for curious pets. Never prop the door open, as a pet or small child can still crawl in and have the door close behind them creating a suffocating environment. Refrigerant chemicals can also leak out of old fridges and rusted fittings. This is more so if they are tipped up- or left outside in the weather, which poses a big threat to our environment.

“Cool” ideas for old fridges

Your old fridge can be repurposed with some creativity. The outside can be painted any colour you like. You can even try chalk paint if you fancy the idea of drawing on the front. Suddenly your old fridge can now be a funky cupboard for gardening or craft items.

If you are feeling creative, it can even be used as a giant cooler for BBQ parties (see below picture). Some can be reused as community food bank storage cupboards. Glass fronted fridges can be turned into libraries or a bar to store spirits and glasses.

upcycled old fridge

How can Junk Run help?

We are Auckland’s most recognised sustainable waste management company. Our furniture removal, repurposing and recycling programme means we will do everything we can to keep your waste out of landfill.

We offer hassle-free, safe furniture removal Auckland-wide and then by working with our charitable partners we will reuse, repurpose or recycle as much as we can. Our expertise covers office furniture removals, decluttering and deceased estates, residential furniture and fridges plus junk left behind by tenants.We charge by the cubic metre- so give our office a call on 021 586 544 to find out more.

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