We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Home & garden.

15 October 2021

How to dispose of or recycle a fridge freezer

Responsible fridge freezer disposal: can you repair, recycle or reuse your old appliance? We explore the options.
Lisa Galliers

Finding a way to dispose of a fridge freezer is no mean feat, especially if you want to get rid of it in a responsible and environmentally conscious way. 

Like other large household items, such as mattresses, disposing of a fridge freezer requires a bit more care and attention. The insulation and refrigerant contained inside are classed as hazardous waste, not to mention the risk of harmful gases leaking from the appliance if it's not disposed of safely. 

Keep reading for expert advice on to get rid of your fridge freezer once it’s past its best, and how to choose the best replacement.

Need a new fridge freezer now? Take a look at our Best Buy fridge freezers to find one that won't let you down.

Fridge freezer disposal: the options

Appliances for recycling

One way to avoid the hassle of disposing of your fridge freezer sooner than expected, is by choosing a reliable fridge freezer brand in the first place. 

But, if you have an old appliance to get rid of now, you have several options. We recently surveyed Which? members to reveal the most common.

The most popular option (47%), and arguably the least hassle, is to have it collected by the company delivering your new appliance. 

Other ways include the council bulky waste collection, giving it away to family or friends, giving it to charity, selling it, or taking it to a recycling centre. 

Surprisingly, around one in 10 people said they still have their old fridge freezer.

Disposal method
% of members who used this method
Collected by company delivery new appliances
47%
I still have it
11%
Council's bulky waste service
8%
Given away to family/friend
8%
I didn't have a previous fridge freezer
8%
Taken to a recycling centre
3%
I sold it
2%
Given to charity
2%

Based on a survey of 1,058 Which? Connect panel members in September 2021.

How should I dispose of or recycle my fridge freezer?

If your fridge freezer is beyond repair or can't be reused, arranging for the company delivering your new appliance to remove it is an option. Not only is it possibly the least hassle, it's also one of the more responsible options, as your old appliance will be taken away and recycled. 

Under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment regulations (WEEE), every item that has either a plug, a charger, batteries or carries a crossed-out wheelie bin logo can be recycled, and that includes large appliances such as fridge freezers. However, recycling does come at a price - read on to find out more about your options for fridge freezer recycling, including costs.

1. Pay a company’s collect and recycle service

Some high street retailers offer an old appliance pick up and recycling scheme, so it makes sense to book one of these if you're buying a new appliance. 

Some retailers only offer the service when you are replacing like-for-like but others, such as AO.com, offer it for any appliance. So even if you're not buying from the retailer, you can book a collection to have your old appliance recycled.

Nearly half of our members had their old fridge freezer collected by the company delivering their new one. Do your research though, as prices vary - 54% paid less than £25 for this service, while 41% paid between £25 and £50. If you are buying your new appliance online, the retailer will ask you to add their collect and recycle service to your online shopping basket at the time of purchase, so you should be able to see how much it will cost you before you proceed.

AO.com

AO.com offers two different services, but whichever you choose, your appliance will end up at its dedicated recycling facility. The company says its recycling machine, Bertha, helps recycle 700,000 fridges every year, which is around 20% of the UK total. The machine also takes care of any harmful gases or oils that could damage the environment.

  • Collect & Recycle from £20. If you're not buying an appliance from AO, this is the option to go for. It covers cookers, fridges, freezers and fridge freezers, washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers and TVs. You can add more than one appliance to your order, but if you need more than three appliances collected, you're best off speaking to AO directly to arrange.
  • Remove & Recycle from £20. AO will collect your old product when dropping off your new one. 

Currys

If you buy a new appliance from Currys, you can also opt for it to take away your old one. Prices start from £15, depending on the appliance. Currys will remove washing machines, washer dryers, tumble dryers, dishwashers, cold appliances, cookers and ovens, gas hobs, electric hobs and hoods, and TVs over 42 inches.

Argos

High-street retailer Argos offers two services: an installation and recycle service as well as a recycle-only service.  Similar to AO.com, Argos will collect your old appliance and take it away for recycling. Or, if you're having a new appliance delivered, it will disconnect and take away the old appliance and packaging too. Price start from around £19.99.

2. Use a council bulky waste collection service

Old fridge freezer

Most local councils will offer some sort of collection and disposal service for bulky waste. This can include large appliances, such as fridge freezers, but check first before booking a slot as some services may not include this type of appliance. 

Having the council collect your fridge freezer from your home sounds convenient, but read the terms and conditions carefully. Sometimes items will only be collected if they’re left in a designated spot outside the house. Many local authorities say that they will recycle some or all the waste where possible.  

Bulky waste collection costs

Councils tend to charge different prices depending on the number of bulky items they collect.

Some councils, such as Liverpool City Council and a number of London boroughs, offer free bulky waste collection, but they’re very much in the minority. Most charge a fee to collect bulky waste, and it can be expensive – for example, Argyll and Bute Council and Wealden District Council charge more than £50 for their services, while the London Borough of Richmond charges £62 per collection. 

In our survey, 88% of our members had paid to use a council's bulky waste collection service.

  • £25 - £50 was the price paid by 53% of our members for bulky waste collection
  • Less than £25 was paid by 47% for bulky waste collection

If you live in England or Wales, you can find out how much your council will charge for bulky waste disposal by typing your postcode into the gov.uk website. If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland, go to your council’s website and search for bulky waste disposal.

3. Take it to a council reuse and recycling centre

Most local tips will take an old fridge freezer, but not all, so check before you head off. To get your fridge freezer there you’ll need a vehicle big enough to fit it in, which may add an extra cost, if you don't happen to know someone friendly with a van. And you need to be careful of the refrigerant contained within the appliance when transporting the appliance. 

Is it possible to repair a fridge freezer?

Repairing a fridge freezer

Before binning your old fridge freezer, consider whether a repair is possible. New Right to Repair laws around large appliances such as fridge freezers mean that manufacturers will now have to make spare parts available. The new rules also state that repairs need to be possible using everyday tools, however some repairs may only be carried out by a professional repairer.

Spare parts including items such as door handles, door hinges, trays and baskets should be available to everyone for a minimum period of 10 years, so if you're handy with a screwdriver, you might be able to make very basic repairs yourself. For professional repairers, light sources, printed circuit boards (PCBs), temperature sensors and thermostats need to remain available for a minimum period of seven years.

In our latest fridge freezer survey, the following were some of the most common faults members reported with their appliance:

  • Not maintaining correct temperature
    This could be an issue with the door seal. Check for any tears, warping in the corners or even bits where the seal has hardened. You can replace a fridge seal yourself - sometimes it’s as easy as pulling out the old one, but you might have to loosen some screws that keep it in place. New seals are available online, for £30 to £100.
  • A build-up of ice in fridge
    The problem could lie with the thermostat behind the temperature dial in your fridge. This can be replaced with a few home DIY tools, with parts available from £30. If you control your fridge freezer using digital controls on the front, it's a more difficult fix and you'll need a professional to give you a quote. It may also be an issue with the door seal, so the advice above would apply.
  • Broken drawers or flaps
    New drawers can be bought online - it’s just a question of buying the specific part for the model you have. Be warned though that manufacturers can charge a lot for these, so be sure to shop around to see if you can get the one you want cheaper elsewhere.

Which? Trusted Trader fridge freezer repairs

For anything electrical or that requires dismantling the product, it’s best to find a professional repairer. Use Which? Trusted Traders to find a reliable fridge freezer repair or servicing engineer.

Read more about appliance faults in Repair or replace: what to do when common appliance faults happen

Can a working fridge freezer be reused?

Engineer repairing a fridge freezer

Absolutely. If your fridge freezer is still working but you need to replace it because you’re moving house or need a bigger capacity for a growing household, don’t just dispose of it. 

There are other options that are more environmentally conscious and may even help someone who needs it. Best of all, these options generally won't cost you a penny.

Donate your fridge freezer

According to our survey, 8% of members gave their old appliance to a friend or family, and 2% gave it to charity. So if you can't be bothered with the hassle of selling your old appliance, or would rather do a good deed, someone else could benefit. 

  • Give it to a charity Some charities will collect working appliances for free. Try the British Heart Foundation or some local branches of the homelessness charity, Emmaus.
  • List it on a free sharing site such as Freegle, Freecycle, the free listings pages of Gumtree or even your local Facebook version of Freecycle. This option may mean someone needs to enter your home to remove the appliance unless you are able to leave it outside for them to collect.

Sell your fridge freezer

Just 2% of our members sold their old fridge freezer. This could be due to the fact it was broken or didn't work, but if yours is still in usable condition you could make some extra cash by selling it. 

There's an active eBay fridge freezer auction market - take a look ahead of selling your appliance will give you an idea of what sells and how much for. 

Be clear with buying about any faults, or imperfections and also whether buyers need to arrange their own collection.

Facebook Marketplace can be a good option for selling secondhand goods, and you may benefit from finding a local buyer.

Fridge freezer safety: instructions

Whether you are selling your appliance or giving it away, check how old it is first. If it's 30 years old it's probably not worth passing on, as new appliances are made from different materials that make them more energy efficient. 

Also, we'd suggest checking to see if the back of your appliance is made from old-style plastic backing, or newer metal backing. For more information on why, head to our fridge freezer safety pages. 

It's important to supply the original instructions if you can. Not only will they offer a wealth of useful information for the new owner, they also contain vital safety information on using the appliance correctly. If you've lost them, you may be able to find a copy online.

See how to recycle in the UK for more household recycling tips

How can I disconnect and move my fridge freezer?

Fridge freezer repair engineer

Depending on the type of fridge freezer you’re getting rid of, there are some things you should bear in mind:

  • American-style fridge freezers are normally much bigger and heavier than integrated or freestanding models. Some can be more than two metres tall and a metre wide, so you may need extra help to move them. If there's a water dispenser or ice maker plumbed in, don't forget to disconnect and drain these first. 
  • Integrated fridge freezers or built-in freezers will need disconnecting and removing from your units. This job can be managed by a competent DIYer, but it's worth checking how the cupboard doors fit onto your appliance. Some are straightforward enough to separate, but others can be tricky. If your built-in appliance is old, check the dimensions and make sure any new appliance will fit into the gap. It could also be worth getting someone in to take out the old appliance and fit the new one at the same time.
  • Freestanding fridge freezers are similar to American-style fridge freezers, in that appliances with ice or water dispensers will need to be properly disconnected from the water supply and drained. Generally, a standard freestanding fridge freezer is smaller than the American-style, so it may be possible to do this on your own.

How long do most fridge freezers last?

Fridge freezer brands

If you think spending more on a fridge freezer means it's likely to last longer, think again. While investing in an expensive appliance means you'll get more fancy features such as smart functionality, humidity control or multizone options where you can swap freezer and fridge space to suit your needs, it's no guarantee of a longer lifespan. 

We’ve tested more than 60 Best Buy fridge freezers, and discovered some that perform better than appliances that cost more than four times the average fridge freezer. The best way to choose a decent fridge freezer is to sign up to read our reviews.

If you're on a budget, you can also choose an Eco Buy fridge freezer. Our Eco Buy fridge freezers will save you money in the long run as these are our most energy-efficient models. Look out for the Eco Buy logo to help you select a model that won't run up your bills excessively.

Discover which fridge freezer brand to buy in 2021