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Published on August 17th, 2021 | by The GC Team


AO’s Monster Munch: Bertha digests 2-million fridges

Online electricals retailer AO has recycled over two million fridges at its Fridge and Large Domestic Appliance recycling plant in Telford, a feat which it attributes to a “big green fridge-crunching machine” named Bertha.

AO can process over 700,000 fridges annually – 20% of all white goods scrapped every year, according to the company – and Bertha’s achievement represents a line-up of fridges stretching 2,000+ miles, equalling the distance from Edinburgh to the North Pole.

Fridges are tricky to dispose of safely as they contain harmful gases, and with several council recycling sites closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, many areas have seen an increase in fly-tipping over the last year. During the period April 2020 to April 2021, AO received over 328,000 unwanted fridges at its recycling plant from customers, up 68% compared to the previous year.

Back to Bertha

Bertha is the height of a three-story house. It works by spinning heavy metal chains inside an airtight container at around 500 revolutions per minute, creating a vortex that breaks the fridge into tiny pieces – think of it like a supersized kitchen blender.

The machine also takes care of the harmful gases and oils stored in fridges, which can damage the environment if released into the atmosphere. Dangerous gases are trapped between tiny pockets of insulation foam, but are safely removed inside the sealed chamber. AO says it is the only fridge recycling plant in the world to collect 100% of harmful gasses released from a fridge, which is all down to Bertha’s efficiency.

Once Bertha has done her job, materials are then reused in other household items such as sustainable ventilation products.

Robert Sant, MD of AO Recycling, said: “We’re so pleased that not only have we saved a huge two million fridges from being fly-tipped, but we’ve disposed of them in the safest way possible.

“As a retailer, we want to take responsibility for the entire recycling process and hopefully it won’t be long before the plastics we produce can be used to create brand new fridges.”

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