Have you ever wondered what happens to your old refrigerator when you're ready to say goodbye? After all, recycling a refrigerator is no easy task. Home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool Corporation is working on ways to make refrigerators more sustainable.

The Wall Street Journal interviewed Pam Klin, Whirlpool's executive vice president of corporate relations and sustainability, about new advances in refrigerator technology.

Refrigerators and freezers utilize polyurethane foam for insulation, which is also used in cushions, walls, and mattresses. Although effective at keeping food cold, foam poses a major challenge for recycling. “When you recycle a refrigerator, you have to separate the parts into different materials, and this polyurethane foam is stuck to the molded plastic door liner and the metal outer panel, so you have to separate everything,” Klin said. It's going to be very difficult to do that.”

Even if the foam is successfully separated, disposing of it is another matter. “Polyurethane foam cannot be incinerated because it emits toxic gases, which is why 1.3 million tons of polyurethane foam is sent to landfills every year,” Klin said.

It is clear that polyurethane foam is not an environmentally friendly option. So what next? Klin said Whirlpool is “developing a highly porous powder.” [with] A much lower level of thermal conductivity or, more simply, a higher level of insulation properties. ”

Implementing this new technology brings a new set of challenges, including redesigning the entire refrigerator to accommodate new materials. Still, Whirlpool is optimistic about the impact these changes will have on our environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency reported that “approximately 9 million refrigerators/freezers are thrown away each year.” Proper recycling can reduce pollution that harms the ozone layer, prevents harsh chemicals from leaching into the soil, saves landfill space, and reduces overall energy consumption. Masu. With Whirlpool's technological developments, the future of effective recycling of refrigerators and appliances looks promising.

Whirlpool calls it “the biggest innovation in refrigerator technology in the past 50 years,” and Klin says, “There's a lot of work to be done here.”

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