Fridge Degassing and Recycling

Organisation (Stakeholder)

City Waste Management Co Ltd (CWM)


Although still the largest share of end-of-life cooling and freezing devices contains CFCs, refrigeration equipment in African countries is generally not properly recycled. As a consequence, the ozone depleting substances (ODS) escape in an uncontrolled way. This effect increases when during improper dismantling insulation foams are separated or even burnt.  Although the respective recycling technologies are available, the complex system required in terms of legislation, organization, enforcement, logistics, financing, infrastructure and technology hampers implementation.


In Accra, City Waste Management Co. Ltd. manages a fridge degassing and recycling facility for the so called step 1 recycling. This includes the evacuation of the CFC-oil mixture from the cooling circuit and the subsequent separation of the mixture into its components through a sequence of thermal and pressure treatment units. After separation, the amount of CFCs in the recovered oil is no more than 0.1 %, which is low enough to allow the oil to be recycled. Once the cooling circuit has been evacuated, the empty compressor is cut from the appliance using the facility's hydraulic shears and the glass shelving, cables, mercury switches and capacitors are also removed.

The facility is essentially automatic. The few operator manipulations that are required can be performed by a person who has received appropriate training. The filling of the CFC collection cylinder proceeds via an electronically controlled weighing machine. When the cylinder is full, the recovery unit switches off automatically. The

ODS are handed over to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Ghana.


From 2013 until beginning of 2015, more than 10.000 units have been gone through the step 1 recycling process.

These fridges originate from four main sources:

  • Energy Commission / Fridge Rebate Programme supported by UNDP
  • industrial clients
  • Confiscated fridges from customs
  • Collection Point in Ho / Volta Region where City Waste Ltd. operates as waste management provider

Lessons learnt

Recovering of CFCs from the insulating material is crucial for any refrigerator/freezer appliance recycling process because by far the largest fraction of these ODS is that which was used as the blowing agent to create the insulating foam. In order to recover ODS from the insulation foam; a step 2 recycling according to CENELC-standard is state of the art in Europe.

Nevertheless, costs for proper recycling of these devices are higher than the revenues that can be generated through recycling, going together with generally high upfront and maintenance cost for the environmentally friendly system.

The elimination of ODS is a burden to administration and requires as interdisciplinary issue sound coordination between different competent authorities and focal points.

Trans boundary shipment of old ODS need to be in accordance with international waste shipment regulations (Basel Convention)

Period of Implementation

Thursday, 31. December 2020


Contact person

Juergen Meinel / Managing Director Vivian Ahiayibor / Field Co-ordinator



Waste hierarchy

  • Recycling

Waste type

  • E-Waste

Area of intervention

  • Operation


P.O.BOX AC 464

german cooperationFederal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Developmentsupported by The State Government of North Rhine-Westphalia