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Why do Air Conditioners Need to be Recycled?

Updated: May 6

Whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, everyone dreads the day that their air conditioner sputters out and never wakes back up. Not only do you have to find a replacement before the walls start to melt, but you need to figure out where the giant hunk of metal is going to go, too! In the past, chucking an air conditioning unit could be done with relative ease of mind with fewer restrictions and laws, although that doesn’t necessarily mean it was done right.

Why do air conditioners need to be recycled?

These days, properly disposing of an air conditioner is a task in and of itself. Not only is the machine massive, but it’s also comprised of a host of components, most of which aren’t environmentally friendly and are the furthest thing away from biodegradable. Air conditioners are just as complex as we make them out to be–they’re made up of pounds of plastic, copper, steel, and many other metals that can’t just simply disappear after a few years at the dump.

Besides the many metals, air conditioners also contain the refrigerant HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon), which can leach into the environment. Although relatively safer than its predecessor CFC (chlorofluorocarbons), it can still severely harm the environment. This substance releases particles which can not only negatively impact the environment that’s readily around the system but when released into the air, chip away at Earth’s ozone layer. Of course, one improperly wasted air conditioner won’t chisel a hole in the ozone layer, but if everyone threw their units into the dump, the fallout could be immense.

What’s the law?

Under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency passed a series of laws prohibiting the improper disposal of air conditioning units. The law outlines that in order to dispose of the machine, refrigerants, like CFC and HCFC, must first be reclaimed by a certified technician before the rest of the machine is taken care of. Therefore, it is totally illegal to simply trash an air conditioning unit and move on.

What about the rest of the air conditioner?

While the law strictly outlines what to do with refrigerant, you’re not bound by the law to recycle the rest of the machine. However, most of the time, it can actually be much easier for you to do so. Think about it–when is the last time you saw a landfill in town? Now, what about a recycling plant?

Finding a good recycling plant to take the rest of the machine is usually the quickest and easiest option from a convenience lens. In taking your machine to be recycled, professionals can disassemble the machine and even use still-good parts to repair other machines and extend their life.

You may even be able to find programs where you can turn in your faulty air conditioner to professionals to take care of it for you, or even fix it to donate to those who may not be in the position to get an air conditioner themselves. If you’re local to Austin, you’ve got a few options for donating your unit.

deconstructed air conditioning unit
A unit to be recycled due to vandalism

The bottom line

Air conditioners are life savers, especially for us Texans in the sweltering heat. However, they can truly be detrimental to the environment if not disposed of responsibly. Recycling your old unit means protecting the environment, wildlife, and the air, and maybe even helping the people in your community if donated.

Call us

Not sure if your air conditioner is dead and would like a professional opinion? Do you need guidance on how to dispose of your unit and where to take the next steps in finding and installing a new one? Don’t hesitate to give us a call here at Tri-Point Refrigeration and one of our experienced technicians can help you along the way. Whether you’re recycling your old air conditioner, requesting maintenance, or anything in between, we’re excited to hear from you!

We look forward to hearing from you, and with regular servicing, we can keep your equipment running smoothly and healthily, while also extending the reach of your dollar.

For a direct line to any of our employees ready on the line to help you, please call…(512) 651-4565 for our Austin, Texas community (806) 686-0050 for our Lubbock, Texas community. Or check out our website at



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