By Chris Nicholls

AUCKLAND: Fisher & Paykel has started to pay consumers in its home country to offload and recycle their old refrigerators in a bid to rid the country of inefficient fridges.

The project, part of the New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority’s (EECA) ‘Energywise’ initiative, means F & P will removing old working refrigerators over five years old and at least 100 litres in size, de-gassing and recycling them and paying the owners NZ$25.

Customers can also choose to donate the money to Ronald McDonald House.

While Fisher & Paykel has been recycling refrigerators at its East Tamaki plant for the past 15 years, this promotion will help speed up the removal of inefficient fridges, said Fisher & Paykel recycling manager, George Gray.

“Taking these appliances out of use can save householders on power costs while benefiting the environment at the same time. Around a third of all fridges and freezers were made before the phasing out of CFCs, making them harmful on the environment,” he said.

Gray pointed out outdated refrigeration appliances are much less efficient than new ones and can use up to three times more electricity.

EECA chief executive, Mike Underhill, said the program would help remove many secondary fridges kept running for little purpose.

“It’s likely that one of these [fridges] is the old, inefficient fridge that has been shifted to the garage instead of recycled. This energy guzzler is costing around $200 or $300 a year to run and the chances are it is sitting nearly empty half the time. By getting rid of this fridge, both the owner and New Zealand comes out better off.

“We estimate there are about 450,000 old and inefficient fridges and freezers in use throughout New Zealand, so the potential to save energy and money is huge.”

While the scheme is feasible in New Zealand, a Fisher & Paykel Australia spokesperson said such a scheme would be unworkable here, due to the lack of a dedicated Fisher & Paykel recycling plant, as well as distance and related transportation costs.

The spokesperson pointed out Australia already had an established metals recycling system, meaning such a program would also be largely redundant here.