Colorado's Cash For Appliances Program Nearly Out Of Cash

Retailers Pledge To Recycle Old Appliances, But Enforcement Not Guaranteed

Colorado’s “Cash for Appliances” program, also known as “Recharge Colorado,” is so popular that it’s nearly out of cash.

Todd Hartman of the Governor’s Energy office told 7NEWS that nearly 17,000 rebates had been claimed as of late Tuesday afternoon.

He said what’s left will likely only last until Wednesday morning.

Residents are using the rebates to purchase new appliances, energy efficient insulation, to conduct energy audits or for renewable energy measures such as solar hot water or solar electric.

Hartman says most of the rebates are being used for the purchase of energy star rated appliances.

We asked what happens to the old appliances.

“We have written agreements with the major retailers who have pledged to recycle the old appliances,” Hartman said.

Mike Amaral, store manager at Sears Cherry Creek, said that company is committed to taking old, inefficient products off the energy grid.

"Sears was the first retailer to work with the Environmental Protection Agency in a Responsible Appliance Disposal or RAD program," Amaral said.

He said, “The old appliances will be taken to a recycling plant where employees will break that product down. In a refrigerator’s case, we would recycle 95 percent of the appliance.”

“The only things that hit the landfill,” Amaral added, “are little things like gaskets that can’t be recycled.”

Amaral said that Sears recycled nearly one million appliances last year.

When asked if the law requires that old appliances be recycled, Hartman replied, “What the law requires in Colorado is that the refrigerators and freezers in particular be recycled. That’s due to the refrigerant or chemicals that have an environmental impact and need to be taken out.”

At Unwanted Appliances, a recycling business in Lakewood, crews remove Freon from nearly 70 to 80 refrigerators a week.

“We break it all down to the main components,” said technician Cassidy Skrbina. “The copper pretty much goes in a copper pile. It’s the same with aluminum, foam and plastic. Then we take what’s left to a scrap yard and they shred all the steel."

Skrbina said the steel is melted down into blocks which are then used to make new products.

During the “Cash for Clunkers” program the federal government mandated that engines in the old cars turned in be disabled.

Hartman said the only requirement for the “Cash for Appliances” program is a written pledge to recycle the old appliances.

“With our staffing level, we are operating on the honor system,” Hartman said. “We don’t have too much concern that someone is going to take an older appliance and try to resell it. If someone did, we’d certainly like to hear about it.”