Circular Energy, a registered not-for-profit Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO), has partnered with Hirsch’s Homestores to assist customers in ethically disposing of their end-of-use appliances.

The partnership underscores the critical role Circular Energy plays in ensuring effective waste management and environmental stewardship.

As a PRO, Circular Energy is approved and registered with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) to operate a nationwide take-back system for the collection, recycling, and environmentally sound processing of a variety of products, including electrical and electronic equipment.

By collaborating with Hirsch’s, Circular Energy expands its impact, ensuring that hazardous materials are handled safely and valuable resources are recovered for reuse in secondary markets.

“Once the appliance is collected from Hirsch’s, it is transported to the recycling hub where it is treated with state-of-the-art recycling technology. Here, the various components are separated and recovered as raw materials from the appliance,” says Patricia Schröder, CEO of Circular Energy.

These appliances are recycled using environmentally sound practices, where all materials recovered are tracked and traced. This results in every component or material from various appliances being recovered and brought back to a raw material form where it can contribute to secondary resources.

This advanced recycling process not only allows these components to be reused, but minimises resource wastage, reduces landfill waste, and mitigates the environmental impact of hazardous substances.

“In the case of refrigeration equipment and the outer casing – which often ends up in a landfill and is illegal to dispose of in this manner – the Polyurethane Insulation material (PUI) that acts as an insulator for temperature regulation on the interior of the refrigerator is safely separated,” explains Schröder.

PUI is an excellent oil adsorbent and is applied in an oil adsorbent process used in alternative energy generation for cement kiln firing (a cornerstone in cement production). Incidentally, a newly developed PUI foam that is fully recyclable was recently launched by BASF, a Circular Energy member.

The metal recovered from the casing after the PUI that is safely removed is also recycled in local smelters where new steel is made. By converting waste into valuable resources, this initiative supports the circular economy and drives innovation in recycling technologies.

“With regards to the refrigerant compressors on appliances, the oil is drained from the compressor, safely collected, and sent to used-oil recyclers. If there is still refrigerant gas left in the appliance, this is recovered and sent to a gas supplier that scrubs the gas to be cleaned for re-use,” adds Schröder.

This meticulous process ensures that harmful chemicals and other substances do not pollute the environment, enhancing the sustainability of waste management practices.

Richard Hirsch, CEO of Hirsch’s, explains that customers can now bring their old products to Hirsch’s branches around the country where well-signed designated areas have been set aside beside the dispatch departments for items to be collected for recycling.

“Hirsch’s is excited to have partnered with Circular Energy to help keep the environment free from end-of-use items. When our clients come through to buy new products from us, they can rest assured that their old products will be recycled ethically, in an environmentally sound manner, thus avoiding the problem of landfills overflowing with harmful waste,” he says.

This partnership highlights the critical role that retailers and PROs play in ensuring effective waste management. By working together, they not only provide a convenient solution for consumers to dispose of their old appliances, but also contribute to a healthier, more sustainable environment. Furthermore, this collaboration fosters community awareness and encourages responsible consumer behaviour, reinforcing the importance of environmental stewardship.

Anyone unsure where to take their appliances and household batteries for recycling can ask a store manager for advice on drop-off locations. Circular Energy also offers household collections, which can be requested through its website. Hirsch’s also provides a service where, upon delivery of new appliances, they will take old appliances and dispose of them in the relevant drop-off locations for the customer.