Session 1

Manual dismantling of refrigerators and air conditioners: A practical guideline for technicians
Jonathan Heubes1, Nidia Pabón Tello2, Cinthya Berrio Boza3
1HEAT GmbH; 2Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible de Colombia,; 3Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Globally, between 75 and 90 million domestic refrigerators and ca. 45 million split air conditioners and other types become e-waste each year – a massive environmental threat and health risk, particularly in developing countries. These countries often lack the necessary technology and know-how for environmentally sound management of this waste stream. The common practice is “cherry picking”: only the most valuable components such as the compressor are extracted from this e-waste, the rest is landfilled or burnt. This situation is exacerbated by significant exports of old appliances from developed to developing countries, which also contradicts the Basel Convention when these appliances are irreparably damaged. Beyond the hazardous components in e-waste, domestic refrigerators and air conditioners often contain critical refrigerants and foam blowing agents – the latter only in refrigerators – with a high global warming potential and ozone depleting potential, thereby damaging the ozone layer and contributing to global warming if released uncontrolled to the environment. Acknowledging the situation in developing countries, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) has prepared a guideline in cooperation with the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS) for the manual dismantling of refrigerators and air conditioners. The guideline shows the steps for the dismantling process 1) demonstrating the proper recovery and management of hazardous substances 2) highlighting the value of all components and pointing to recycling options and 3) outlining a successive process of technological development and upgrades towards state-of-the-art technology, including the critical management of foam containing CFC blowing agents. With this guideline the project fills an important knowledge gap, making an important contribution to mitigating climate change, protecting the ozone layer, the environment and the health of people working in this sector.

‘Manual dismantling of refrigerators and air conditioners: A practical guideline for technicians’