PureSphera Gives Refrigerated Devices an Eco-Friendly Retirement

Innovative technology allows for the recovery of 99.9% of refrigerants and blowing agents and the recycling of 96.8% of components from everything from air conditioners to dehumidifiers.

From air conditioning units to water dispensers, fridges to freezers, wine cellars to dehumidifiers, the average household has at least two to three refrigerated appliances. The refrigerants and blowing agents necessary to make these devices work include ozone-depleting substances which are a significant source of greenhouse gases.

Fridge storage

A single fridge, if improperly managed, can represent emissions of more than 3.2 tons of CO2 equivalent. Fortunately, the team at PureSphera is here to say “Chill, but chill responsibly,” and make sure these machines are managed properly when the time comes to put them on ice.

The PureSphera company started up as a response to energy efficiency programs from public and private utilities. These initiatives were designed to incentivize the early retirement of inefficient old fridges and freezers, and the programs encouraged the use of the best possible methods to recycle retired appliances. PureSphera took on that challenge, collecting refrigerators, freezers, and vending machines in full compliance with EPR regulations.

The techniques and technology PureSphera utilize allow them to keep potential pollutants out of our atmosphere and in the circular economy. Their success in this has been key to securing governmental and private funds to further enhance the performance achieved. Creating success through GHG reductions and the sale of materials recycled has allowed PureSphera to go beyond taking out the old to bringing in the new.

Technology transfer, $15 million in investments for research and development ($200,000 in 2021 and 250,000$ in 2022), new equipment, new practices, training, and establishing new documented environmental standards have been key to PureSphera’s success. As well, the sale of carbon offsets, along with the selling of spare parts and refurbished fridges has been energetically undertaken for several years, all of which have resulted in a unique cross-border Canadian-American showcase.

As things stand, the more common decommissioning practice across Canada is to basically hack a retired appliance apart for its metal value. In most cases, this vents harmful gas and agents as well as plastics and glass components — that’s a lot of crispers in the bin. Even the metal this practice is trying to salvage isn’t spared, as oil gets mixed into the different components when appliances are shredded at metal recyclers.

Halocarbon gas management and destruction

Instead, by looping into the circular economy, PureSphera has diverted more than 100,000 kg of plastics per month and between the beginning of January 2021 and late March 2023, more than 2,000,000 kg were recycled. That’s in addition to recouping metals, glass, polyurethane, oils, some reclaimed gas, and some spare parts for people who want to repair their own appliances. In fact, a total of 1,500 entire fridges have been repaired and sold in that same early 2021-2023 time frame.

As a North American leader in GHG reduction and the circular economy, PureSphera currently generates more than 7500 tons of CO2eq reductions every month, selling more than 105,000 verified carbon offsets through the regulated Quebec carbon market protocol during that period.

And things are only looking up from here. In 2021, the company received 48,000 fridges and freezers; by 2022 that number had already grown to 72,000, and they’re already predicting just short of 95,000 units for 2023.

Safely extracting ozone-depleting substances

Since the early days, recycling rates have increased from 50% to an astounding rate of over 96%, all while creating 75 jobs. Plastics, metal, and glass are now diverted from landfills, insulation foam is now decontaminated through the capture of the blowing agents and recycled, contaminated oil in the compressor is collected, and the refrigerants extracted so the oil too can be recycled.

PureSphera asks if your refrigerator is running, and if it’s not, they’d like to come catch it.