Pilfering of discarded refrigerator parts making it more expensive for recycling

Waste collection cooperatives say over half the fridges collected from Wasteserv facilities are missing many valuable parts, making it more expensive to recycle them abroad

It costs more to recycle fridges abroad when valuable parts are missing
It costs more to recycle fridges abroad when valuable parts are missing

Waste collection cooperatives GreenPak Co-op and Green MT have called on the Environment and Resources Authority to clamp down on the illegal pilfering of valuable refrigerator parts, which they said was leading to a pile-up of unwanted refrigerators at the Wasteserv facilities.

Discarded appliances in Malta are delivered to national waste agency Wasteserv, which are then passed on for recycling to an authorised scheme responsible for WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment). It is the ERA which is then responsible for making sure the procedure is in line with local and EU legislation.

But the recycling of refrigeration equipment, including air conditioners, is expensive and the role of the WEEE schemes are to finance collection and recycling of discarded appliances, as well as to pay Wasteserv for the storage of WEEE received from households.

“More than half of the fridges we collect from Wasteserv are missing many valuable parts,” Joe Attard, CEO of WEEE Malta said. “Without these parts, our scheme is having to pay extra money to get them recycled abroad”.

Mario Schembri, CEO of GreenPak said that apart from the added costs involved in the recycling of such equipment, when parts like motors are ripped away from fridges, harmful gases escape into the atmosphere with severe consequences to pollution and the climate.

“WEEE Malta has flagged up this problem with the authorities for many years, but no one seems to be listening,” Attard said. “Together with GreenPak, we have informed Wasteserv that scavenged fridges will no longer be removed from their facilities unless the Schemes are compensated for the additional costs this illegality is causing”.

Schembri said it is ERA's responsibility to take action against the culprits that were pilfering WEEE at the expense of the environment. “We understand that the illegal dismantling of the fridges is happening somewhere along the way from it leaving the residence until it is picked up by the WEEE Scheme. There are a number of checks that the authorities should be doing but are missing here. The result is that schemes are burdened with additional costs arising from the lack of correct procedures,” the CEOs said.

They warned that if no action was taken, there would be a risk of fridges piling up at Wasteserv facilities.