While our focus on this blog has been the search for responsible base-load power options, the HBPW’s overall mission is one that prioritizes conservation and respect for our environment. Just yesterday, the Holland BPW was recognized for an innovative recycling program called Recycle Rewards. We received the 2012 Neighborhood Environmental Partners (NEP) Program Award from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
“Customers asked for an outlet to recycle air conditioners and dehumidifiers, so we partnered with Padnos and other local utilities to make it happen,” said Anne Saliers, our conservation programs manager.
Most recycling centers won’t take these items, or will only accept them for a fee because the Freon removal costs more than the scrap metal is worth. To help our customers make the most environmentally responsible decision, we hosted a one-day collection event for air conditioners and dehumidifiers with the result of saving kilowatt hours of energy for getting these antiquated appliances off the grid. In addition to increasing our city’s overall energy efficiency through conservation, the program also ensured proper Freon removal.
Freon, whose usage has been regulated and subsequently phased out over the past 25 years, is also known as “chlorofluorocarbon.” CFCs, for short, react with molecules in our atmosphere and have devastated the Earth’s ozone layer for decades. And the atmospheric impacts of CFCs are not limited to its role as an active ozone reducer. This anthropogenic compound is also a greenhouse gas, with a much higher potential to enhance the greenhouse effect than CO2 (Citation).
Recycle Rewards was held in partnership with Louis Padnos Iron & Metal Company, Zeeland Board of Public Works, Consumers Energy and Grand Haven Board of Light and Power to collect air conditioner window units and dehumidifiers in the greater lakeshore area. Customers received rebate checks of $15 for each eligible appliance, up to $60. The first Recycle Rewards event held last fall collected 85 units, saving 3,356 KWh of energy. A second Recycle Rewards event was held June 2 with similar outcomes. (See photos). The next Recycle Rewards event is being planned for May 2013.
Our Future Plans
Because the program has been so successful, right now, we’re looking for ways to accept air conditioners and dehumidifiers on an ongoing basis, as we already do with refrigerators and freezers, keeping these appliances out of landfills and harmful from affecting the ozone.
“We have seen utilities working within their communities to collect inefficient appliances, but the idea of collecting window units and dehumidifiers is unique,” said Mike Young, NEP coordinator for the Michigan DEQ. “The BPW’s response to community need and success in removing inefficient appliances from the grid were some of the reasons they stood out for the NEP Award.”
To receive the competitive annual NEP Award, an organization must be a Pollution Prevention Partner or Clean Corporate Citizen. This means their facilities operate above compliance with no violations or notices from the MDEQ.
We were one of eight organizations to receive the NEP Award in this award cycle, and this is the second year in a row we received it. Last year we were recognized for our pharmaceutical collection events.