Refrigerators are mainstays of modern American life. A common view of these units is that as long as the beer or pop is still cold, life is good. Refrigerators are worth talking about because they are the third largest household user of energy after home heating/cooling and water heating. Many people utilize an older refrigerator in an outbuilding as a multipurpose storage unit or refreshment cooler rather than haul it to the landfill.
Empire Electric Associations annual refrigerator recycling event was designed to create a convenient method to properly dispose of older units. The goal is to educate consumers on more energy-efficient refrigerators.
Empire Electric partners with the Montezuma County Landfill, the San Juan County Utah Landfill, and Bobs Place Reconditioned Appliances to sponsor the refrigerator/freezer recycling campaign. To highlight Earth Day during April, both landfills will accept refrigerators and freezers from members of Empire Electric for proper disposal from April 18-23. Through a certificate obtained at Empires offices each member is eligible to turn in two appliances any combination of refrigerators or freezers. Empire underwrites the disposal fee and pays each consumer $50 per unit.
All participating drops have established programs to process these units while adhering to strict environmental rules about handling the refrigerant. They include local certified refrigeration specialists who contract with Montezuma County Landfill and are trained to properly evacuate the refrigerant. Special equipment is used to draw out the refrigerant and then it is stored in approved containers for proper disposal.
Although other utilities have similar programs, this campaign is unique in that the resources to complete the recycling loop are right here in the Four Corners region, including bailing the evacuated units into a scrap metal bail and trucking it to a metal recycling center in Albuquerque or Salt Lake City. Belt Salvage, a local recycling company, takes in these units and bails them into 1,000-pound bails along with other recyclable white goods stoves, dishwashers and the like.
Two hundred ninety-eight units were turned in during the 2010 campaign. Participants responded favorably. Most were not aware that the Four Corners area has the capability to take care of its own trash. Others mentioned it was a great service and a worthwhile campaign.
Deborah Barton, Montezuma Countys landfill manager, was overwhelmed by the positive response to this campaign. She believes that it speaks well of the people in the Four Corners area and that they really do care about their community.
Two Dove Creek residents went above and beyond for their elderly friends and neighbors by hauling over six units to the Montezuma County Landfill at no charge. Barton mentioned that in many communities people expect the local governments to handle all the unwanted trash from their doorstep.
The real success of this campaign is shown by the cooperative spirit of Empires members. Empire Electric is dedicated to helping its members increase their education in the wise use of electricity. Members expressed in recent opinion polls that they would like to see Empire Electric take a leadership role in energy conservation and environmental stewardship. Although we are in the business of selling electricity, our member/owners are the very people the co-op serves. A portion of Empires revenue is spent on communicating with and educating its membership about different aspects of the electric world safety, energy efficiency, conservation, renewable energy, wildlife protection, as well as global energy issues.
The money spent on this campaign could have been used to create an advertising and education campaign where we just talked about the best ways to save energy with regard to refrigerators and freezers. But instead of creating more paper waste for the landfill, this campaign brings into focus discussions about an energy user that most consumers take for granted.
The campaign theme, Dont plug it in Turn it in encourages families to let go of their 30 year-old hummer in the kitchen. If they purchase an Energy Star rated replacement for their discarded refrigerator or freezer, they also received a $90 rebate through Tri-State Generation and Transmission and EEAs Energy Efficiency Credit Program. Additionally, they will save on their electricity bill through the benefit of a more efficient refrigerator. The EEC program is ongoing and if a unit was purchased within the past six months, EEA only requires proof of purchase and proof of Energy Star rating. Call 565-4444 for further details.
Doug Sparks is the member services manager, and Bobbe Jones is the assistant member services manager with Empire Electric, 801 N. Broadway, Cortez. Empire Electric Association is working with the community to save energy and money.