The life cycle assessment (LCA) study makes clear that simply removing hydrocarbon containing appliances from the waste stream and processing them in a shredder without recovering the hydrocarbons is untenable as it fails all relevant environmental criteria.
Scientists at the Darmstadt-based Oko-Institut, which carried out the research, concluded that the joint processing of CFC-containing and CFC-free appliances in a specialist fridge recycling plant scores better on all key environmental indicators that any other method of treatment.
They found that any prior sorting of waste refrigeration equipment into CFC/CFC-free appliances has a significant negative effect on the most important environmental criteria.
The findings of the study were welcomed by The RAL Quality Assurance Association for the Demanufacture of Refrigeration Equipment, a campaign group which aims to guarantee quality in the fridge recycling process and to ensure compliance with existing environmental standards.
A spokesman said: The Quality Assurance Association believes that the unambiguous conclusions reached in the LCA study will rightly put an end to any proposals to modify the WEEE Directive and associated regulations regarding the obligation to remove hydrocarbons from waste fridges and freezers.