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Mitsubishi talks new recycling programme

Mitsubishi’s new recycling programme will ensure that old A/C equipment is disposed of responsibly

Mitsubishi Electric has released details of its recycling programme for air-conditioning units (and photovoltaic modules) to ensure that the maximum amount of raw materials can be recovered and returned back to the supply chain.

As reported in RAC in October, as part of the second phase of its Green Gateway environmental programme, the manufacturer has increased its attention to ‘cradle-to-grave’ carbon emissions.

To address the ‘end-of-life’ stage of its equipment it has partnered with Stourbridge recycling specialist Overton Recycling to develop a comprehensive recycling programme.

To simplify matters as much as possible for customers, the Overton arrangement includes free-of-charge collection of old air-conditioning equipment.

The carrot is that for Mitsubishi Electric account holders and corporate customers, Overton  will collect all old units for free, regardless of who manufactured them – subject to certain conditions, such as the units being accessible rather than still being on the roof or in the basement.

Overton is also able to accept returned systems with refrigerant pumped back to the outdoor unit and says it will arrange free collection from “almost any site in the UK” during normal business hours.

“Recycling is one of our core corporate commitments and forms part of the way we do business through our Green Gateway philosophy,” says Debbie Reeve, marketing manager for Mitsubishi Electric’s corporate solutions and air conditioning products. “Many of our corporate customers have  been asking for a recycling scheme and we believe that this is not only the right thing for a responsible manufacturer to do, but that it makes sound economic sense as well.”

Overton has developed a sophisticated recycling plant at its West Midlands site, where the individual metals and components are stripped from old units and processed to maximise the amount of raw materials that can be recovered.

A product take-back software tool designed specifically for Mitsubishi Electric customers is available via www.recycling.mitsubishielectric.co.uk.

Overton has been recycling fridges and cold rooms since 2002 and developed its air-conditioning recycling equipment programme in conjunction with Mitsubishi Electric to offer an easy route for the disposal of end-of-life equipment, encompassing all the necessary refrigerant handling and certification required.

Mitsubishi Electric has been instrumental in raising awareness among customers about the need to phase-out R22, and the partners see this as aiding the responsible disposal of the refrigerant.

Mitsubishi stresses that the high pressures and the volumes of gas contained in air-conditioning systems make it critical that at end-of-life it is properly handled and de-gassed by F-Gas-certified personnel.

“We are delighted to be working with Mitsubishi Electric to help dispose of obsolete kits in an environmentally friendly way,” says Overton Recycling boss Dean Overton. “The partnership also demonstrates its commitment to ensure that equipment containing R22 gas is disposed of responsibly by 2015. We look forward to a long and successful working relationship.”

Overton says its recycling process ensures that 99.1 per cent of all materials are recovered and recycled, and the company can also prepare and submit reports to the Environment Agency on behalf of customers.

On receipt, the unit is de-gassed and the gas sent to a refrigerant recycler. The units are then stripped by hand, the compressors are sent for remanufacturing, the oil sent for use in energy-from-waste generation and then the remaining metals are processed and sent to specialist reprocessors.

Overton uses optical separation technology for air-conditioning units for efficient segregation of metals and plastics. The recycler can also process aluminium/copper condensers.

To qualify, the old unit needs to be placed back intact on the pallets the new units came on, at street level.

Overton stresses that stripping any parts will invalidate the Environment Agency authorisation and may incur extra charges. Filling in the online booking form generates a Hazardous Waste Consignment Note, together with pallet labels and carrier’s consignment note, after which the carrier will make contact to confirm dates, times and collection vehicle required.

“Recycling and processing end-of-life equipment responsibly to recover the maximum amount of raw materials is the final part of our Reduce, Re-use, Recycle approach to manufacturing,” explains Ms Reeve. “It is simply the way we believe all manufacturers should behave.”

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