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Old equipment can be taken away for recycling

I was talking with a customer last week and they hadn’t heard about our recycling scheme which surprised me somewhat, as I wondered what they did with all the old equipment and material being removed from the many retrofit sites they must operate in.

All HVAC engineers understand the important role that our industry is now playing in helping to decarbonise society by reducing energy use and carbon emissions.

But if we aren’t utilising the ‘waste’ from a job properly then we will struggle to get to the circular economy we all need to, where everything possible is made from recycled materials, and everything that reaches the end of its useful life is recycled.

Around 98% of materials from old HVAC equipment can be recycled

Martin Fahey Green Martin Fahey Head of Sustainability

Remove, recycle, recover

We’ve built a comprehensive recycling scheme that will collect and recycle old HVAC equipment. This helps installers remove waste from site, while ensuring as much material is recovered as possible.

We want to help installers provide solutions that deliver what building occupants need, while reducing the environmental impacts as much as possible, so we developed this service to help mitigate the environmental impact of end-of-life HVAC equipment.

We’ve developed a recycling programme for end-of-life air-conditioning units and heat pumps. In partnership with Environcom this gives installers an easy to use and certificated route for disposal of end-of-life equipment.

By ensuring that old or defunct air conditioning units are dismantled in a compliant manner, in line with current legislation, then these materials can be reclaimed for use elsewhere, minimising the strain on natural resources.

This is all done in the UK, reducing the need to send anything overseas for recycling.

How does it work?

This service is available to any contracting company that wishes to use it, however if an installer is a member of our Partner Programme they can use their Relationship Development Fund (RDF) to pay for the collection.

To arrange a collection our customers can simply contact Environcom on 0844 736 0071 or email stating that they are a Mitsubishi Electric customer.

The Environcom recycling programme sits alongside their existing Electronic Waste Recycling and Reuse Services, which delivers a certificate of safe disposal of old equipment.

It is estimated that 98% of materials from old HVAC equipment can be recycled, so recovering and recycling our used materials is more important than ever.

Around 80% of recycled plastics are of a quality that can be used to manufacture new products, such as automotive parts, or in building and civil engineering materials. The remaining 20% are used for thermal insulation.

Our air conditioners currently use about 10% recycled plastic. Other materials recovered such as iron, copper, and aluminum are 100% recycled. These are taken over by professional contractors and reused as raw materials.

Other rare earth materials, such as Gold, Silver and Neodymium, are also recovered for re-use.

Compressors and refrigerants

Older refrigerants can harm the ozone layer and contribute to global warming if released, so making sure they are safely extracted is a top priority.

When decommissioning old HVAC equipment, the contractor will need to extract any refrigerant gas from a system into a cylinder, this process is called ‘degassing’ (reclaiming). The contractor then takes the collected gas to their refrigerant processor for handling.

The refrigerant processor analyses the gas to assess whether it can be re-used, blended with another refrigerant for re-use or needs to be destroyed due to its chemical composition.

The process offered by Environcom allows for refrigerant that remains in the end-of-life unit to be safely handled and not allowed to be released to atmosphere.

Any residual refrigerant in the redundant HVAC unit is safely removed at Environcom and processed on site through Geri (Gas Energy Recovery Incinerator), which ensures these gases are destroyed by high temperature incineration. Geri can also supply hot water and heating to be used in the plant.

After the refrigerant and oil is extracted and collected, Environcom recycles the compressor using the UK’s first automatic compressor dismantling machine.

CARRiE (Compressor Automatic Removal Recycling Equipment) allows the automatic extraction of the copper rich contents from inside the compressors while also separating the steel shell.

Martin Fahey is Head of Sustainability