Steel and the Sustainability of Appliances

The United States could prevent annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the emissions of more than 8.3 million cars, if every American home recycled their pre-1993 fridges with Energy Star qualified appliances.

According to the Appliance Recycling Information Center, the Average American family owns half a dozen major appliances. Most major appliances are made primarily with steel. The choice to use sustainable steel gives appliances both recycled content and recyclability. In addition, steel extends the life span of appliances to an average of 15 years. Because of the steel content, appliances are annually recycled at a rate of around 90 percent, which has many sustainable implications, including:

  • Conserving millions of cubic yards of landfill space that would otherwise be occupied by appliances, thus reducing the need for new landfills;
  • Saving energy that would otherwise be expended to mine virgin materials;
  • Supplying valuable raw materials to the steel industry;
  • Creating jobs throughout the recycling infrastructure;
  • Stimulating the development of even greener steelmaking technologies; and
  • Conserving natural resources for our children’s future.

By recycling even 100 appliances, 2500 pounds of iron ore, 1400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone are conserved.

When this math is applied across the more than 36,000 appliances that are recycled in a day nationally, the natural resource savings are tremendous. This is in addition to the energy savings that are brought about by upgrading to new, more energy-efficient appliances.

The North American Steel Industry, via the Steel Recycling Institute, is a proud supporter of the Energy Star Recycle My Old Fridge campaign. This campaign is aimed at encouraging consumers to recycle their old appliances in the interest of energy savings and demands on the electrical grid.

Appliance Sustainability Resources: