Environcom has installed the “UK’s first” compressor dismantling facility at its waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) treatment facility in Grantham, Lincolnshire.
The machinery, which the company claims is the second of its kind in Europe, enables the safe dismantling of compressors from refrigerators and other cooling appliances.
It has been installed at the Environcom plant as part of a partnership with the compliance scheme REPIC.
The machine, called CARRIE (Compressor Automated Removal and Recycling Equipment), has been introduced with the aim of “raising standards” on compressor recovery within the UK and will also reducing the number of compressors currently being exported abroad.
It will process around 10,000 compressors a week and is expected to generate up to 28 tonnes of copper and 252 tonnes of steel every month, to be returned to manufacturing.
Environcom said in a statement that CARRIE will enable the valuable raw metals found inside compressors to be extracted and recovered within the UK, and added that producers of refrigerators and cooling appliances will also benefit from the new machine as it will provide an evidenced audit trail for a greater volume of compressors.
The company explained that there has been no capacity to dismantle compressors in the UK and limited capacity in Europe until this machine was introduced.
Compressors are the ball-like black metal component at the bottom of a fridge and are often targeted illegally as they have a scrap metal value when compared with the rest of the fridge, where there is a cost to dispose.
Older fridges have compressors made of copper while newer models are usually aluminium and steel. The improper removal of compressors, usually during theft, can release harmful gases into the environment.
The CARRIE process is fully automated and carried out within a controlled environment, achieving “the highest standards for environmental control and employee health and safety”.
By avoiding the need for any transportation abroad the carbon footprint of recycling is also being reduced, Environcom explained.
This investment has been made possible by a partnership between Environcom and REPIC with the aim of enabling improved standards for WEEE recycling.
Commenting on the machinery, Cris Stephenson, Environcom CEO, said: “Ensuring that we have safe and efficient compressor dismantling process right here in the UK is crucial in the drive towards a more circular economy.”
Mr Stephenson added: “Our collaboration with REPIC has been key, and we hope to lead by example in raising the standards on WEEE treatment in the UK.”
Mark Burrows-Smith, CEO of REPIC, noted: “We are extremely proud to be involved in this project, which sees the UK pioneer a more safe, efficient and effective solution to compressor dismantling in the UK. We look forward to seeing the positive benefits which CARRIE will have on the industry.”