After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, an immense clean-up operation ensued. Thousands of homes had been flooded, damaged, or destroyed which meant that a massive amount of debris and junk needed to be hauled to one of the many landfills in the surrounding area. There was one landfill that was different from all others, though. It was a landfill that only accepted ONE item—refrigerators.
When a home is destroyed, everything from that home can be thrown into a massive truck and hauled to a typical landfill. That is, everything except the refrigerator. Due to the presence of Freon, refrigerators need to undergo a special disposal process.
As demonstrated daily in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the process begins with loading the refrigerator on a truck that drives to a special landfill for refrigerators. Upon arrival, workers unload the fridge and remove all contents from the fridge. This is where it gets gross. I asked the superintendent of one of these “refrigerator graveyards” what the grossest thing was he ever discovered in a fridge. He said he once found a deer head.
When the contents of the fridge are emptied, then workers evacuate the Freon from the fridge which then allows the fridge to be crushed and thrown into a massive heap of other fridges.
In normal times (non-crisis) the landfills of New Orleans would see less than ten fridges a day. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, they saw HUNDREDS which is why the Sanitation Department opted to create a landfill designed specifically to handle only refrigerators.
So, if your fridge kicked the bucket or you’re simply upgrading, don’t just throw your fridge out like any other appliance. Take care to ensure you comply with sensitive environmental and municipal codes when it comes to the proper evacuation of Freon and the safe disposal of your fridge. And, by all means, be sure to empty the contents of your fridge before sending it to the landfill! At a minimum, remove any deer heads that might still be inside. At a maximum, at least disinfect it with a quick wipe like the Melaleuca Sol-U-Gard wipes or Clorox disinfecting wipes.
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