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New fridge recycler could set benchmark for future

A commercial fridge recycling facility capable of processing non-domestic appliances in an ‘intrinsically safe’ way is due to go live in the UK this summer.

Leicester-based BReSynergy, formed from a recent merger between WEEE specialist BR Environmental Services and fridge recycler Cool Synergy, has developed a facility that it claims goes beyond new safety requirements recently introduced by the Environment Agency (EA).

In December 2012 the EA reclassified hydrocarbon-blown fridges as hazardous waste, putting a new duty on fridge recyclers to separate the foam out during disassembly using an ‘intrinsically safe’ process.

But some within the industry have said confusion remains over what ‘intrinsically safe’ means and that neither the EA nor the Heath and Safety Executive have clarified their position on this despite issuing guidance.

According to BReSynergy business development director Gordon Mason, this uncertainty over its definition is presenting real problems for fridge recyclers, many of whom are reliant on existing reprocessing technology that may longer be fit-for-purpose.

“The Environment Agency has come out with this fantastic phrase, but at no point has anybody said this is what we expect by it. The guidance itself makes a lot of sense…but unfortunately we have got this ‘intrinsically safe’ phrase inserted within it and it is really causing a problem,” he said.

Rather than waiting for clarification, BReSynergy has pressed ahead with what it considers to be more stringent safety standards.

The plant enables standard 12-foot commercial display commercial refrigeration cabinets to be loaded in their entirety into an encapsulated shredding system, without the need to cut into them first. This is important since the cutting process risks releasing hydrocarbons from the foam into the atmosphere, where they could explode.

“Essentially this plant will offer the most efficient method of treating all of the hydrocarbons as no mechanical process will be utilised prior to the cabinet entering the shredder,” Mason said.

The facility also utilises cryogenic condensation to remove any oxygen inside the shredding chamber, again minimising explosion risks while the hydrocarbon gasses are being released.

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